St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Newly Reviewed
Billy Elliot The Musical Reviewed in this issue.

Hit-Story Harry Harden (Christopher Hickey) is a man in conflict with himself. A happy, pacifistic English professor, he's lately become subject to outbursts of maniacal punching, which he can neither predict nor control. These "furies," as he calls them, threaten his career — he pummeled a poetry professor — and his marriage to Janet (Michelle Hand), who also has been on the receiving end. It's Janet who summons her brother, Derek (Jason Cannon), a high-priced shrink, to the basement boxing ring where Harry sequesters himself for the safety of others. Can Derek root out the cause of Harry's affliction? The script, by Washington University playwright-in-residence Carter W. Lewis, has the looseness of a fable and the electric language of prophecy, most of which is delivered with majestic unctuousness by Cannon, who goads his brother-in-law into a fury, for his own amusement. At a scant 60 minutes, Hit-Story is a little short on development, but Cannon and Hickey's verbal sparring — about life and guilt and who really deserves to be battered by an engine of destruction like Harry — dazzles so thoroughly in this Tom Martin-directed production that you won't notice. It doesn't hurt that the action is staged in an actual boxing ring. In an actual basement. (They don't call themselves OnSite Theatre Company for nothing.) Through November 19 at Sweat, 8011 Maryland Avenue, Clayton. Tickets are $20. Call 314-686-0062 or visit www.onsitetheatre.org. — Paul Friswold

An incomplete transformation: The cast of the Rep's Circle Mirror Transformation.
Jerry Naunheim Jr.
An incomplete transformation: The cast of the Rep's Circle Mirror Transformation.

Palmer Park Reviewed in this issue.

Ongoing
Circle Mirror Transformation Hey, who wants to watch five stereotypical white people play amateur psychiatrist to each other under the guise of a creative dramatics class at a community center? Annie Baker's Circle Mirror Transformation is as advertised. Four residents of Shirley, Vermont, take a creative drama class at the community center and fall in love with one another, fall out of love, share a dark secret and experience an epiphany through the mystical rituals of lying in a circle on the floor and counting to ten, role-playing as each other and, uh, performing a scene in which the only lines uttered are "ak-mak" and "goulash." If you answered yes to the question posed above, chances are you're involved in the theater community (or you really love self-help books). If you didn't, well — boy, are you in for a slow night. (PF)
 
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