Helver's Night Time seems to stand still in this harrowing 80-minute drama from Poland, that is receiving its U.S. premiere. Linda Kennedy and Christopher Harris both give breathless performances. She is the caretaker of a retarded youth, he the simpleton who has become too enraptured by paramilitary activities. Smoothly translated and brilliantly directed by Philip Boehm, playwright Ingmar Villqist's warning about the inherent violence that accompanies extremism makes for unforgettable theater. Performed by Upstream Theater through October 24 at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand. Tickets are $25 ($20 for seniors, $15 for students). Call 314-863-4999 or visit www.upstreamtheater.org.
— Dennis Brown
Love Kills Reviewed on Daily RFT, the Riverfront Times news blog. Editor's note published 10/21/09: New Line Theatre has canceled the remaining performances of Love Kills owing to "personal loss in the company."
Ragtime Reviewed in this issue.Sleuth Anthony Shaffer's mystery manhandles the concept of "fair play" in the framework of England's ongoing class war. Andrew Wyke (Munson Hicks) is a wealthy writer of plummy mysteries that celebrate a bygone England. He invites his wife's lover, self-employed travel agent Milo Tindle (Michael Gabriel Goodfriend), to his manor to bring him in on a scheme that will make both men happy — and that's all the plot that can be safely revealed without spoiling Shaffer's twists. Hicks slathers brash and phony bonhomie on Wyke, but playing the role for laughs robs it of menace. Shaffer's script requires that Milo be both gullible and cunning; it's a combination that defies reason but Goodfriend mostly pulls it off. Sleuth is at times frustrating in the forceful manner in which it drags its audience through leaps of logic from point A to point D. Still, that second act is fraught with peril, thanks to director Michael Evan Haney's use of the infrequent pause to build tension. Presented by the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis through November 8 at the the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $18 to $68 (rush seats available for students and seniors, $10 and $15 respectively, 30 minutes before showtime). Call 314-968-4925 or visit www.repstl.org.
— Paul Friswold