Capsule Reviews

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Adult Entertainment George F. Walker's dark one-act comedy lives up to its title: It's highly entertaining, and it's much too suggestive for the kiddies. Walker, a streetwise former Toronto taxi driver, wrote a cycle of six one-act plays all set in the same seedy motel room. In this outing the room is the scene for an illicit tryst between Max (Gregory Paul Hunsaker), a tough cop whose role model might have been Popeye Doyle, and Jayne (Meghan Maguire), a court-appointed public defender who hates her life but at least pretends to have given up caring. The solid cast, directed by Cameron Ulrich, also includes Rory Flynn as Max's wasted partner and Kelley Ryan as the partner's beleaguered wife. "Certain people's lives aren't worth very much," Jayne laments, yet in this snappy and sometimes very funny divertissement, even sad, pathetic shadow-people can provide an evening of absorbing and valuable theater. Performed by the Muddy Waters Theatre Company through August 22 at St. John's United Methodist Church, 5000 Washington Place (Kingshighway and Washington Boulevard). Call 314-540-7831. (Dennis Brown)

Bus Stop The dated dialogue in William Inge's 1955 romantic comedy about weary travelers trapped in a blizzard at a Kansas diner runs the risk of sounding as rusty as an old time capsule. ("I din' know much about women, 'cause they're different from men.") But in this engaging production directed by Kat Singelton, the actors dive into the script like a piece of lemon meringue pie and by evening's end have the audience eating out of their hands. In the pivotal role of Cherie, the Ozark tart who's trying to escape the clutches of an aggressive Montana cowboy (the engaging Richard Barth) but is really trying to run from her own past, Nell Teare reveals herself an ideal Inge actress. She fills out the spaces between the lines to create a character of indelible, earthy innocence. Performed in repertory through August 29 at the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, Missouri. Call 660-837-3311. (DB)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch What's a girly boy to do when his sex-change operation is botched? Form a rock & roll band! Todd Schaefer shows off an amazing voice in this confessional concert piece, which features a kick-ass band and great cross-gender supporting work from Stephanie Brown. After a strangely slow opening, Schaefer's performance savvy kicks in and this Hedwig takes off. Schaefer succeeds with a variety of musical styles -- soulful ballads, funky honky-tonk and metal/ punk noisefests. But the heart of the play is Hedwig's failed love affair with Tommy, and here Schaefer's acting rings true. Playing both Tommy and Hedwig, he creates a fabulous sense of dialogue. A confusing ending clouds an otherwise bright performance: Hedwig seems to have an epiphany, stripping away her wig, makeup and clothes, but the audience is left to guess at what caused her transformation. It's a bit like an Uh-Oh Oreo -- strangely vanilla at both ends, but creamy-licking-good in the middle. Staged by the New Line Theatre and the Washington Avenue Players Project through August 21 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington. Call 314-534-1111. (Deanna Jent)

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