Regional Reviews: St. Louis
Soldier Boy and The Little Frenchy Files
This is a very well-balanced double-bill, with a one-act full of archetypes and political humor followed by an excellent little tragedy about a maddened circus animal.
Written and directed by Joe Hanrahan, with his son Travis at the center of both pieces, the 85-minute investment is very entertaining. Travis Hanrahan is the naïve soldier-boy of the first story, a walking piece of Japanimation ready to spring into action. And, with a vestment-draped politician (Steve Springmeyer) and a gung-ho officer (Larry Dell) urging him on, there's plenty of room for commentary on the current social scene.
Young Mr. Hanrahan's march through pre-industrial wars is epic and grim. And because he is so young, he seems unaware of the clichés of most war stories. Those old familiar lost my buddy' moments are dutifully air-dropped in as we visit the present day street battles in a faraway land. Ayse Eren and Marianne Laury are his mother and girlfriend, and just as simple and symbolic as everyone else during a millennium of wars. But the wry anti-Bush humor sprinkled throughout drew rueful laughter from the opening-night audience.
The Little Frenchy Files is a very different kettle of fish. The young actor plays a chimpanzee, huddled in a cage, shivering with neuroticism. All the same actors are back, including Ms. Eren, who is excellent as a thoughtful researcher specializing in mind-controlling drugs. Director/Playwright Joe Hanrahan neatly avoids archetypes and polemics in this short work, and the results are deeply stirring.
Anyone who has ever lost a beloved pet will find it hard to take their eyes off Larry Dell as the bereft animal trainer. He can be tough as Bogart or Cagney, but plunges us into tender grief this time, hovering near the animal cage through most of the story. Mr. Springmeyer and Ms. Laury also return to gently move the plot along, but it's the trainer's remorse that makes The Little Frenchy Files so deeply affecting.
Through June 9, 2007 at the Technisonic Studios, 500 So. Ewing. For information call (314) 487-5305 or visit the web-site, www.midnightcompany.com
The Politician: Steve Springmeyer
The LITTLE FRENCHY Files
Written & Directed by Joe Hanrahan