The 39 Steps Reviewed in this issue.
Love Song John Kolvenbach's comic drama about Beane (Aaron Orion Baker), a man who is so emotionally shuttered and psychologically fragile as to be invisible even in daylight, is at times overwritten and just this side of overwrought. When a hard-bitten gamine named Molly (Sarah Cannon) burgles his apartment, she also steals his heart, and Beane finally takes notice of the world he's been ignoring. His nascent joy burbles over into the life of his sister Joan (Lavonne Byers) and her husband Harry (John Pierson), improving their relationship. Byers and Baker work together beautifully; she's protective of Beane and frustrated by him — a classic big sister. Some scenes take too long to develop for too little payoff, but script flaws don't deter director Jason Cannon. His deft handling of the penultimate scene between Beane and Joan is a tender and sharply honest moment between siblings who at last see and understand each other. Presented by St. Louis Actors' Studio through January 24 at the Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Avenue. Tickets are $25 ($18 for students and seniors). Call 314-458-2978 or visit www.stlas.org.
— Paul Friswold
Love! Valour! Compassion! After a fourteen-year hiatus, Citilites Theatre returns to St. Louis with a spare staging of Terrence McNally's 1994 comedy-melodrama about several gay friends who spend their holiday weeks at a lake house (indulgently named Manderlay) two hours north of New York City. Though not an easy house to find, it's not so remote that AIDS can't come knocking. But HIV isn't the only unwelcome visitor. One disruptive houseguest behaves like a rooster in the chicken coop. Although McNally is clearly passionate about his subject matter (one senses that the script is highly autobiographical), as usual he encourages his characters to talk on for far too long. Since they only really talk about one topic, a viewer is left with a discouragingly myopic view of the world. Through January 17 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Boulevard. Tickets are $18 to $20 ($15 to $17 for students and seniors). Call 314-773-1879 or visit www.citilitestheatre.com.
— Dennis Brown