Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Lovers: West End Players Guild's latest production is a long and troubled affair 

Colin Nichols as Andy and Theresa Masters as Hanna in Brian Friel's Lovers.

John Lamb

Colin Nichols as Andy and Theresa Masters as Hanna in Brian Friel's Lovers.

"Joe, we'll be happy, Joe, won't we?" Maggie, the amorous teenager says to her betrothed in Winners, one of two plays in Irish playwright Brian Friel's Lovers, which West End Players Guild opened last Friday at the Union Avenue Christian Church.

The answer is "probably not," but it's hard not to pull for Maggie (Betsy Bowman), a girl whose youth and optimism is made all the more heartbreaking by her circumstances: Pregnant at seventeen, she's bound to marry Joe (John Lampe), a schoolboy of dubious stock and uncertain prospects. But in this production we are asked to put our future concerns aside for the moment, and simply soak in the contradictory rush of passion, fear, trust, jealousy, hope and despair these two experience on an unseasonably warm day in June 1966. Their afternoon, poignant on its own, is made all more affecting by the pair of narrators who sit off to the side and tell us what we already know: Life won't be easy for these two.

The second play, Losers, uses a similar narrative conceit. But here we follow Andy Tracey (Colin Nichols) and Hanna Wilson-Tracey (Theresa Masters), a middle-aged couple whose early passion was extinguished soon after they wed.

The casts in both plays are strong, but there's really no overcoming the weaknesses of Friel's script. Both plays are very talky, with no real character development or even action to speak of. The play's staging doesn't help much either. Much of the action is at ground level, making it difficult to see past larger audience members, while also affording glimpses of props from the first play that have been unceremoniously shoved aside during the second. The net result is that Lovers, which does have some nice acting, as well as some funny and poignant moments, feels longer than it ought to — sort of like a love affair that has run its course.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Related Locations

Speaking of...

Read the Digital Print Issue

June 16, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation