Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chuck's Choices for the weekend of April 27, 2015

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

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New This Week:

The Age of Bees
Tesseract Theatre Company presents The Age of Bees through April 28. "It's the year 2098. The bees are gone and the world struggles to keep up with the resulting ecological and economic changes. In the midst of this, we meet Mel, a young woman who has found sanctuary on an agricultural compound, where there's food and safety. She works alongside other girls, also orphans or castoffs. Sarah and Zed, who run the farm, hope that their next child will be a boy; Sarah is at the end of her fertility, however, and, to her dismay, Mel stands next in line to carry children for Zed. Into this uncertain sanctuary steps Jonathan, an independent field researcher who collects samples of plants to forestall additional ecological devastation. Meeting Mel provides a glimmer of other kinds of scientific riches on this compound, and he is determined to take her with him. Zed's history of violence makes any escape a dangerous proposition. Still, there's the hope that something new can grow, that something good can come from the ruined world they struggle to make theirs." Performances take place at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar. For more information:

My take: "Tesseract Theatre continues to demonstrate a commitment to finding not simply new plays," writes Tina Farmer in her review for KDHX, "but new plays that tackle contemporary issues with inventive and imaginative plots and well-informed, yet natural, dialogue...Playwright Palmquist takes a dark look into the future with this environmentally conscious, sweetly romantic play. These themes resonate deeply throughout and feel fully realized and genuinely formed." Tesseract is once again taking chances with a disturbing but important subject, and that kind of daring warrants a shout-out here.

Photo: John Lamb
St. Louis Actors' Studio presents Yasmina Reza's comedy Art through May 3 at the Gaslight Theatre, 358 North Boyle. "How much would you pay for a white painting? Would it matter who the painter was? Would it be art? One of Marc's best friends, Serge, has just bought a very expensive painting. It's about five feet by four, all white with white diagonal lines. To Marc, the painting is a joke, but Serge insists Marc doesn't have the proper standard to judge the work. Another friend, Ivan, though burdened by his own problems, allows himself to be pulled into this disagreement. Eager to please, Ivan tells Serge he likes the painting. Lines are drawn and these old friends square off over the canvas, using it as an excuse to relentlessly batter one another over various failures. As their arguments become less theoretical and more personal, they border on destroying their friendships. At the breaking point, Serge hands Marc a felt tip pen and dares him: “Go on.” This is where the friendship is finally tested, and the aftermath of action, and its reaction, affirms the power of those bonds." For more information, call 314-458-2978 or visit

My take: Playwright Reza seems to specialize in scripts about Men Behaving Badly. Art is probably her best known and most popular play, and it looks like STLAS is doing well by it. The Snoop's Theatre Thoughts blog says that "the cast here is uniformly excellent, working together well and portraying a convincing combative friendship," while over at KDHX Tina Farmer says "[the] dialogue is crisp and artfully crafted, with lots of interesting turns but no real surprises. It's delightful to listen to the conversations of the three characters, Marc, Serge and Yvan, even though none of them are particularly sympathetic or more than marginally likable. John Pierson, Drew Battles and Larry Dell comfortably inhabit their characters and skillfully glide through dialogue that is at times complex and tongue twisting."

An Invitation Out
Photo: John Lamb
Mustard Seed Theatre presents An Invitation Out by Shaulee Cook through May 3. "In this world-premiere comedy of manners, a young man searches for “truth” while living in virtual reality and explores the “reality” of life offline." 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

My take: Mustard Seed specializes in plays that deal with difficult ethical issues. In this case, they've chosen to take on the question of identity in a virtual world where a screen name might mean everything or nothing, and they're doing it in a way that pays homage to Oscar Wilde. In his review for KDHX, Robert Nickles says the plays characters "must make choices about identity within the confines of complex social expectations. Like any comedy of manners, the script hides profound truths behind the silliness and superficiality of human conventions. This visually stunning production combines fun and philosophy to produce a thoroughly entertaining social critique." At, Judy Newmark says the show is "is big in every way: the size of its cast, the characters’ outlandish costumes, the generous imagination that playwright Shualee Cook poured into her vision of a neo-Victorian future."

Shakespeare Festival St. Louis presents Shake 38, a city wide performance festival in which all 38 of Shakespeare's plays are performed by 38 different groups in a variety of neighborhoods and locations. Performances take place Wednesday through Sunday, April 22-26. For a complete schedule:

My take: For sheer variety, it's hard to beat Shake 38, the Shakespeare Festival's annual city-wide celebration of The Bard on the week of his birthday. Events include Macbeth at Clayton Community Theatre, a concert version of Verdi's Falstaff at Tavern of Fine Arts, Miss Crump of the Loo (A Modern Adaptation of Timon of Athens) at the Centene Center, Goin' Ham-Lit in the Hood, An Adaptation of Hamlet at the St. Louis City Juvenile Detention Center, Student2Student: Measure4Measure at St. Louis University, and Henry VIII: Lose Your Head: A SHAKE 38 Signature Event, St. Lou Fringe Shindig, and Gateway Burners Recompression Party Extravaganza! at the Cherokee Arts Center. For a complete list (because, trust me, there's a lot more):

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