Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Adult Entertainment In Elaine May's wicked spoof of the porno-movie industry, the laughs begin when four delightfully dumb XXX film stars decide to produce their own blue movie and bring in a young Yale grad to add class up the project. Under the direction of Chuck Harper, the sprightly cast strikes just the right balance between endearing and dirty. All six performers -- Larissa Forsythe, Carrie Hegdahl, Matt Kahler, Jerry Russo, Jared Sanz-Agero and Julie Venegoni -- are terrific, even if the evening can't sustain its frenzied comic pace all the way to the end. Performed by HotCity Theatre through May 7 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $23 ($18 for students and seniors). Call 314-482-9125. (Dennis Brown)

Defending the Caveman A sitcom-mentality stage play "experience" without the pesky problems of character relationships or plot. As a play, it's pretty good stand-up comedy -- especially for married couples who embody stereotypic gender roles. The solo character is a married guy trying to defend men from disdain. "It's not that guys are assholes," he explains. "They just come from a different culture." Creator Rob Becker romanticizes cavefolk as a model society: They respected and honored gender differences. Nobody called the cavewoman a bitch, nobody called the caveman an asshole (perhaps because language hadn't yet been invented?). Unfortunately the material doesn't really build. Cody Lyman (from Chicago's Second City) plays the Caveman. Presented through May 8 at the Playhouse at West Port Plaza, 635 West Port Plaza (second level), Page Avenue and I-270, Maryland Heights. Tickets are $35-$39.50. Call 314-469-7529. (Deanna Jent)

Levee James A love story turns tragic: Hard-working farmer Wesley romances the down-and-out lady's maid Lily, but their fun-loving neighbor Fitzhugh accidentally turns the tides against them. A.C. Smith, Monica Parks and Gary E. Vincent create believable characters and the set, lighting and costume work is exemplary. But none of it is enough to disguise Sherry Shepard-Massat's poor script. The subject matter is a sad but true slice of American life -- it needs a better play than this to do it justice. Presented by the Saint Louis Black Repertory Company through May 15 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $25-$37.50 ($10 rush seats for students available ten minutes before showtime). Call 314-534-3810. (DJ)

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