St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Distracted Reviewed in this issue.

The Memory of Water Mothers and memories — good, bad and imaginary — are the focus of Shelagh Stevenson's family drama. Immediately after the death of their mother, Vi (Meg Brinkley), sisters Teresa (Leslie Wobbe), Catherine (Belinda Quimby) and Mary (Suki Peters) gather to bury her and resume the contentious sniping that defines their tripartite relationship. The cast and director Tom Kopp treat this as a British sitcom, and while much of the dialogue is scathingly funny, there's a subtext of bitterness and regret that is not well served by the laugh-a-minute delivery and shaky English accents. Peters delivers the strongest performance as the drawn and haunted Mary, a doctor whose biological clock ticks ominously in the presence of her married boyfriend, Mike (a strong Ben Ritchie). The meanderingly repetitive first act is (mostly) redeemed by the final twenty minutes of the play, in which Mary finally breaks through the grating banter to ask — and answer — her own questions about life and how to live it. Presented by the West End Players Guild through February 13 at the Union Avenue Christian Church, 733 North Union Boulevard. Tickets are $18. Call 314-367-0025 or visit www.westendplayers.org. — Paul Friswold

The Price Reviewed in this issue.

Shadowlands Gary Wayne Barker delivers a lovely, detailed portrayal of British novelist and scholar C.S. Lewis in this account of his autumn romance with Joy Gresham (Kelley Ryan), an American admirer seventeen years his junior. Just as Lewis is beginning to feel younger than springtime, Gresham is diagnosed with an incurable disease. Now the scholar — who has spent his life writing and lecturing about emotions he has never felt — begins to experience pain and suffering firsthand. Ultimately one's enthusiasm (or tolerance) for the play pivots on the viewer's attitude toward Gresham. Perhaps playwright William Burroughs intended for her to be lovably original, but she seems more devious than quirky. Through February 13 at the Fontbonne University Fine Arts Center Theatre, 6800 Wydown Boulevard, Clayton. Tickets are $20 to $30 ($15 for students and seniors). Call 314-719-8060 or visit www.mustardseedtheatre.com. — Dennis Brown

 
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