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Capsule Reviews 

Dennis Brown and Deanna Jent suss out local theater

Crowns Reviewed in this issue.

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. Open-ended run 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)

Macbeth Reviewed in this issue.

The Robber Bridegroom If you're looking for fine fiddling but want to avoid the St. Patrick's Day crowds, check out this hillbilly hoedown at the ArtLoft Theatre. While the book and lyrics by Alfred Uhry and the music by Robert Waldman aren't always brilliant, Scott Miller's energetic production makes the most of it. Leah Schumacher gives the most noteworthy performance as rich girl Rosamund Musgrove, who falls in love with the mysterious "bandit of the woods" as she tries to dodge an arranged marriage. Michael Heeter as the title character doesn't quite match Schumacher, but he scores some compelling moments, especially in the haunting seduction scene. Jeffrey Pruett, Kimi Short and Christine Brooks portray the "Goat" family with such sharply focused intensity that whenever the play gets boring, you can amuse yourself by watching their reactions from the sidelines. Presented by New Line Theatre through March 26 at the ArtLoft Theatre, 1529 Washington Avenue. Tickets are $15-$18, $10-$15 for kids, students and seniors (half-price tickets available for students ten minutes before curtain). Call 534-1111. (DJ)

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