Back of the Throat Reviewed in this issue.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson's oft-told tale about dual personality and the nature of good and evil receives a curious new spin from playwright Jeffrey Hatcher. Here almost everyone onstage except the actor who plays Dr. Henry Jekyll (Anthony Marble) takes a crack at Jekyll's demonic alter ego, Edward Hyde. Thus a story about transformation does not allow its title character's actor to engage in said transformation. As if that weren't strange enough, an oppressive pall hangs over the staging. Produced by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through April 12 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $16.50 to $65 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $10 and $15, respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org. — Dennis Brown
My Secret Language of Wishes Vanika Spencer renders a sensitive and poignant portrayal of a disabled, seizure-prone African American child at the center of a custody dispute. But the script by Cori Thomas that begins as a potential courtroom drama keeps changing focus until finally it ends up spinning its wheels and going nowhere. Act One, when the exposition is laid out, is not without interest. But Act Two, which puts the custody fight on the back burner to dwell instead on an attorney's lesbian relationship, is strictly for those who enjoy watching actresses impersonate waterworks. Through April 19 at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square. Tickets are $17 to $43. Call 314-534-3810 or visit www.theblackrep.org. (DB)
A Walk on the Beach with Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee Director Sam Hack stages two one-acts with beach settings in this production, but it's not a stunt or a thrifty set solution. Here where the water meets the land, we experience two very different meditations on the transitional moments in life. Tennessee Williams' "The Parade, or Approaching the End of the Summer," stars Reynard Fox as Don, a Tennessee stand-in who petulantly and masochistically grinds his gears over his stalled career and an unobtainable dancer named Dick. He talks out his frustrations with Miriam (Amy Schwarz), a vivacious intellectual whose love for Don can't will him into being a success, despite her importuning. It's a personal story, a letter to Williams' younger self, but Schwarz's fire brightens it up considerably. More universal is Edward Albee's "Finding the Sun," in which a group ranging in age from youth to senior citizen ponder the next step in life. Gleeful, sardonic, pessimistic, longing — Albee finds a corner for everything, and Hack has put a cast in place to explore it all. Nathan Weissler's sixteen-year-old Fergus is a hypersmart wiseacre, but Weissler plays it subtly and well. Rob Gold is grimly funny as Daniel, who has abandoned love for a heterosexual sham marriage. How is something so dreamlike in logic and structure so real and affecting? Good writing, good cast, great performances. Presented by Clayton Community Theatre at the Washington University South Campus Theatre, 6501 Clayton Road. Tickets are $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Call 314-721-9228 or visit www.placeseveryone.org.— Paul Friswold