Thursday, September 01, 2016

Chuck's St. Louis theatre choices for the weekend of September 2, 2016

As always, the choices are purely my personal opinion. Take with a grain (or a shaker) of salt.

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The Heir Apparent
Photo: John Lamb
St. Louis Shakespeare presents the comedy The Heir Apparent by Jean-Fran├žois Regnard, as adapted by David Ives, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., September 1- 4. " Paris, 1708. Eraste, a worthy though penniless young man, is in love with the fair Isabelle, but her forbidding mother, Madame Argante, will only let the two marry if Eraste can show he will inherit the estate of his rich but miserly Uncle Geronte. Unfortunately, old Geronte has also fallen for the fair Isabelle, and plans to marry her this very day and leave her everything in his will-separating the two young lovers forever. Eraste's wily servant Crispin jumps in, getting a couple of meddling relatives disinherited by impersonating them (one, a brash American, the other a French female country cousin)-only to have the old man kick off before his will is made! In a brilliant stroke, Crispin then impersonates the old man, dictating a will favorable to his master (and Crispin himself, of course)-only to find that rich Uncle Geronte isn't dead at all and is more than ever ready to marry Isabelle! The multiple strands of the plot are unraveled to great comic effect in the streaming rhyming couplets of French classical comedy, and everyone lives happily, and richly, ever after." Performances take place at the Ivory Theatre, 7620 Michigan in the Carondelet neighborhood. For more information, call 314-361-5664 or visit stlshakespeare.org.

My take: I have seen (and acted in) many St. Louis Shakespeare shows over the decades, and their track record with farce, in particular, has been quite good. As Tina Farmer writes in her review for KDHX, director and company founder Donna Northcott "has always had a fondness for farce. When armed with a witty, rhyming script and a standout cast that's ready for any challenge, she's an unstoppable force. As a result, The Heir Apparent is a fabulously good time even when the audience generally knows that a happy ending is certain." David Ives, who adapted the script, is no stranger to the comedy world himself, with many very clever and hilarious shows to his credit, including Venus in Fur and All in the Timing.


Held Over:

Kindertransport
Photo: John Lamb
Mustard Seed Theatre presents Kindertransport, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., through September 4. “During 1938-39, almost ten thousand children, mostly Jewish, were sent from families at risk in Nazi occupied Germany to safety in Britain. Samuel's play explores the lives of mothers and daughters torn apart and brought together by this “Kindertransport.” ” Performances take place at the Fontbonne Fine Arts Theatre, 6800 Wydown Blvd. For more information, call (314) 719-8060 or visit the web site at www.mustardseedtheatre.com.

My take: The road to hell, says the cliche, is paved with good intentions. The intentions behind the British Movement for the Care of Children seemed good enough; it tried to save children from the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. But the emotional scars were significant, and they're all on display in the Diane Samuels script, based on recollections of actual kindertransport children. "Director Deanna Jent has taken the raw emotions laid out by the playwright and spilled them out over two acts," writes Steve Allen at his Stage Door STL blog, "each encompassing less than an hour each. The lives affected are often hard to watch but Jent’s powerful lead brings us a story that we won’t soon forget."

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