St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Newly Reviewed
Cannibal! The Musical Reviewed in this issue.

How I Learned to Drive Reviewed in this issue.

Hit-Story Harry Harden (Christopher Hickey) is a man in conflict with himself. A happy, pacifistic English professor, he has 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 — Paul Friswold

Palmer Park Joanna McClelland Glass' drama-cum-history lesson about the brief moment when a Detroit neighborhood experienced racial harmony in the aftermath of the 1967 race riots is fitfully dramatic but often interesting. Too much time is devoted to characters doling out facts about the era, but cold fact at its core — that the American educational system favors the wealthy and neglects the poor — is well developed and compelling. Fletcher and Linda Hazelton (Reginald Pierre and Jeanitta Parks) are an upper-middle-class black couple who endure voluntary racial quotas and the scorn of working-class blacks, all in the interest of securing a good education for their daughter. The Hazeltons' struggle to befriend their new white neighbors (Chad Morris and Rachel Hanks, both excellent), Fletcher's fear of failing his daughter, the truth about diversity — "nobody wants it with poor people" — are beautifully enacted by Pierre and Parks. You just wish there were more of it. Presented by St. Louis Actors' Studio and the Black Rep under the direction of Ron Himes through November 20 at the Missouri History Museum, Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue (in Forest Park) Tickets are $25 ($20 for students, military personnel and seniors; $18 for museum members; $10 rush seats available for students one-half hour before curtain). Call 314-746-4599 or visit (PF)