Picasso at the Lapin Agile Steve Martin's ten-year-old comedy about an imaginary 1904 meeting at a Paris bar between the young and still unknown Albert Einstein (David Cooperstein) and the even younger Pablo P. (James Russell Wax) is aging like a fine wine. This lively discourse on art, science and celebrity is always disarming and often delightful. Not every single line elicits a laugh, but every line is written from a comic sensibility that reflects Martin's savvy grasp of theater. This compact production, impressively directed by Michael Jokerst, is engaging from start to finish. The charming cast, an effective set by Steve Myers, a precise lighting design by Jeff David -- everything comes together here to serve Martin's deft script. Community theater doesn't get any more entertaining than this. Performed by Clayton Community Theatre through March 20 at the Little Theatre at Clayton High School, 1 Mark Twain Circle, Clayton. Tickets are $12 and $15. Call 314-534-1111. (Dennis Brown)
The Retreat from Moscow Not all theater has to be in-your-face. William Nicholson's three-character dissection of a failing marriage is marked by civility and quietude. To some, those attributes might add up to boredom; others will find this play intelligent and thoughtful. And how startling to see a sober drama that is neither a revival nor a sleek, superhyped prize winner. Rather, it's a throwback to that era when, if an author had something on his mind, he wrote a play. The show has been cleanly staged by Steven Woolf and is crisply performed by Darrie Lawrence as the wife who takes too much for granted, Anderson Matthews as her craven husband and Erik Steele as their son who finds his own identity even as his parents are losing theirs. Performed by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through March 11 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets $12-$58 (rush tickets available for students and seniors, $8 and $10 respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925. (DB)
The Robber Bridegroom Reviewed in this issue.
The Unexpected Guest Dame Agatha Christie is surely the dullest wildly successful playwright in history. Her successes (like Ten Little Indians) are tedious enough. But her minor efforts are numbing. The Theatre Guild of Webster Groves didn't learn its lesson three years ago with Christie's humorless The Hollow. Now they're trying again with this tiresome account of the murder of a nasty cripple. The stage is replete with conniving wives, blackmailers, loony relatives. Whodunit? Whocares? After intermission the audience files back into the theater looking like the condemned on their way to the guillotine. But look at it this way: Because the play is performed in two acts, you get to fall asleep twice. Performed by the Theatre Guild of Webster Groves through March 13. 517 Theatre Lane, Webster Groves. Tickets are $12 ($10 for students and seniors). Call 314-962-0876. (DB)