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Off the Cuff Productions tried ably to bring contemporary theater to West County -- to Chesterfield, specifically -- but "bedroom community" and an evening of Stoppard just don't seem to go together. So Off the Cuff has beaten a wise retreat from the frontier back to where more cosmopolitan sensibilities might appreciate the tough artistry of a playwright such as David Mamet. It's Mamet's most recent work, The Old Neighborhood, with which Off the Cuff returns to the city. The production features Wayne Salomon in the role of Bobby Gould, perhaps the character Mamet has patterned most closely after himself. The play is actually a collection of three shorter pieces, in which Gould encounters the past through an old friend, his sister and a former lover (pictured left to right are Christopher Reilly, Kari Ely, Salomon and Charlotte Dougherty). Because this is Mamet's world, expect emotional fireworks that are riveting, brilliant and harrowing. The Old Neighborhood is performed at the Xavier Hall Theatre on the St. Louis University campus, directly across from the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 5-21. Call 963-8800 for tickets.

-- Eddie Silva

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