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|Classic Mystery Game|
Photo by Joey Rumpell
My take: Whatever else Classic Mystery Game's PR may claim, it would appear that it is ultimately a big, entertaining, and very funny show. At KDHX, Tina Farmer says its "a comic circus of sorts, paying tribute to the fun of the board game and the campy excess of the 1985 movie. If you are looking for a genuine comedy that the whole family can enjoy or just a fun night out with friends or a date, "Classic Mystery Game"...is an excellent choice." "This is a hilarious show," writes Michelle Kenyon on her blog, "with a spirit reminiscent of old-time sketch comedy shows..There's wordplay and innuendo, along with physical comedy, sight gags and more as the story continues on its rapid pace until its suitably hilarious conclusion. I won't give any more details, because that will spoil the fun. And fun, it certainly is."
My take: In a 1989 New York Times article reflecting The Crucible, Arthur Miller wrote, "Political movements are always trying to position themselves against the unknown-vote for me and you're safe." The relevance to contemporary politics could hardly be more obvious. Inspired in part by the 20th century witch hunts of the late Senator McCarthy, the play is a searing indictment of the power of mob mentality and the moral corruption of politicians who feed on it. Today the mob is on the Internet and social media, but the intellectually disreputable process is the same. I don't think it's coincidental that the last couple of years have seen a reawakening of interest in this work. In a review for STLtoday Calvin Wilson calls this a "stunning and hauntingly memorable production." And, yes, I have a small part in it.
|Exit, Pursued by a Bear|
Photo by John Lamb
My take: I haven't seen any of the rehearsals for this production yet, but I'm on West End's play reading committee and so I have read the script. It's a hilarious wild ride that's very different in tone from Gunderson's more well-known Silent Sky. This is definitely an adult comedy, though, so leave the little ones at home.
Photo by John Flack
My take: A smart, hip, and very funny parody of Sesame Street, Avenue Q is also an entertaining (if R-rated) story of college-educated twentysomethings--both flesh and foam rubber--coming to grips with the economic, political and sexual facts of life. The show is good, not-so-clean fun and always worth seeing. This production is "outrageously funny" (Calvin Wilson, STLToday). "A blend of national and local talent brings zest, exquisite precision and rampant enthusiasm to this delightful version of the Tony Award-winning musical melange of puppeteered optimism at its finest," writes Mark Bretz at Ladue News.
Photo by Eric Woolsey
My take: This ingenious update of Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice is "a richly entertaining re-imagining of a play that's at once timeless and timely" (Calvin Wilson, STLToday). "This is not your high school English teacher's Merchant of Venice," writes Richard Green at TalkinBroadway.com. "Aaron Posner's District Merchants is still a tale of love's many obstacles (most of them funny) and also of the poisonous nature of grievance (decidedly not funny). But this time it's all a lot more personal, and present, and maybe even political, at The New Jewish Theatre."
Photo by ProPhotoSTL
My take: Hamlet meets Martin Luther, with Dr. Faustus and Helen of Troy in the mix as well. It's the sort of idea that might make for an extended comic sketch, but apparently playwright David Davalos has turned it into "a whimsical journey to 16th century Germany" that "offers tasty food for thought" (Mark Bretz, Ladue News). Ann Lemmons Pollack writes that Wittenberg is "all about wit, both mental agility and humor, and we get plenty of both here." Go thou and enjoy.