St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Apr 23, 2008 at 4:00 am

Kid-Simple As a precocious young scientist who invents a machine that detects sounds beyond the hearing of humans, Katie Consamus has a delectably quirky stage presence, enhanced by legs that reach all the way up to her pigtails. When the new gizmo gets stolen by the bad guys, it's up to our heroine to right the world. This science-fiction fable is too clever by half-squared. Playwright Jordan Harrison describes his script as "a radio play in the flesh." But the imagination-piquing charm of radio is about more than sound effects. This student production was probably a blast to put together in rehearsal, but sitting through it requires an abundance of good will. Performed by Saint Louis University Theatre through April 27 in Xavier Hall, 3733 West Pine Mall. Tickets are $6 to $10. Call 314-977-3327 or visit 
—Dennis Brown

The Lion and the Jewel Sidi (Erin Vaughn) is the belle of her Nigerian village, and she's faced with a very serious choice: marrying the young and progressive schoolteacher, Lakunle (Jimmy Ganasin Brooks Jr.), or the aged and conservative chief of the village, Baroka (Revocat Murayi). Brooks plays Lakunle with marvelous rubbery grace and such painful earnestness that his pleas for social change are comical, while Murayi's beautiful accent imbues his monologue about growing old with defiance and fatalistic acceptance. Sadly, the size of the Edison swallows up more than a few actors' voices, and there are passages when the young cast is merely talking and not acting. Presented by the Washington University Performing Arts Department, under the direction of Ron Himes at the Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-6543) through April 27. Tickets are $9 to $15. —Paul Friswold

Measure for Measure Director Deanna Jent has modernized Shakespeare's Measure for Measure in set and costume, but she remains true to the spirit of the tale. Vienna is corrupt, and the Duke (Jason Cannon) abdicates his power to Angelo (Jim Butz) so the latter will do the dirty work and clean up the town. Butz and Cannon are both magnificent, as is Jennifer Theby as the virtuous Isabella. The question "What is mercy?" is central to the story, and these three bring drama, strength and a palpable vulnerability to the asking — and they provide a sublime answer to the question as well. Presented by Mustard Seed Theatre at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre (6800 Wydown Boulevard; 314-719-8060 or through April 27. Tickets are $15 to $20. (PF)

Sistahs Indeed! Mariah L. Richardson’s Sistahs Indeed! is a pro-woman, pro-feminism piece with an obvious message to deliver — know that going in. Three shifting narratives set up stories about two women — always played by Richardson and Chiffonntae Ross — that depict them as goddesses in opposition, sisters who have drifted apart and children from different backgrounds. As a restatement of feminist ideas (own your body, claim masturbation as a right, support other women) Sistahs Indeed! does a serviceable job. As a play, it befuddles. None of the stories are resolved, and the play stops abruptly after 40 minutes. Ross is charming and well cast as a goddess of compassion, but Bikini Kill’s album Pussy Whipped conveyed these same ideas in a much more affecting way. Presented by the St. Louis Community College-Forest Park Speech-Theatre, under the direction of Mary Hurley at the Bastian Center of Performing Arts (5600 Oakland Avenue; 314-644-9388) through April 27. Tickets are $2 to $4. (PF)