Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Two Plays on St. Louis Stages Take Very Different Approaches

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Two Plays on St. Louis Stages Take Very Different Approaches

Article excerpt

Two plays currently on St. Louis stages explore drastically different modes, one fantastical and the other grimly realistic.

The stylized fantasy "The Dispute" from a new troupe, the YoungLiars is not only a delight, it is sown with grains of truth. The other play, "Gidion's Knot" at the St. Louis Actors' Studio, boasts two deeply felt performances. But that's not enough to overcome the play's many built-in tricks and problems.

Very loosely based on a 1744 French comedy by Marivaux, "The Dispute" is about four exceptionally nave young lovers. Director Chuck Harper and leading lady Maggie Conroy adapted the script and included songs (most from the Dandy Warhols), dance, cornball jokes and quotations from books of advice for young ladies and gentlemen. These are invariably hilarious, whether they're old or fairly recent.

Conroy, Mitch Eagles, Marcy Wiegert and Paul Cereghino play the deliciously self-absorbed lovers, with Julie Layton and Ben Watts as their knowing elders (and partners in a vaudeville act). Jeff Skoblow plays a frustrated French writer (Marivaux?), while Anna Skidis Vargas and Jonah Walker play the couple who justify the play's subtitle: "A Spectacle for Lovers and Fighters."

Conroy, a busy bee, also designed the glamorous, period-hopping black-and-gold costumes. Somebody perhaps Mikey Butane Thomas, credited with "movement activities," or "movement coach" Jef Awada created the exciting ensemble dances that open and close the show.

The main thing is that all of it coheres. The elements of the show and the characters in it interrupt each other all the time, like bits of a dream. But again like the elements of a dream they all amplify each other by indirection. Dance, jokes, music and storyline all make the same point: Hard as we may try, men and women are not especially good at love. Never have been, never will be. …

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