Regional Reviews: St. Louis
A Most Outrageous Fit of Madness
Also see Richard's review of Doctor Faustus, or the Modern Prometheus
Nancy Bell's original script, loosely based on The Comedy of Errors, flies by in just under an hour, with Michael James Reed as both father and mother, in a madcap comedy at the Grandel Theatre. It's part of Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis' "In The Works" series currently underway in midtown St. Louis.
But the show has already had its shake-down tour through local elementary schools for the last few months. The laughs, and the blithe Shakespearean quotes, and quick changes fly by like passing cars on an interstate, with barely as much notice given. Special mention goes to director Gary Wayne Barker's wailing highway spin-outs, where Mr. Reed goes from playing dad to mom and back again in a dizzying display.
Karl Hawkins is the can-do son who was not washed away in the original tempest, and Erika Flowers-Roberts is his older sister, swept up in game apps on the long family drive to reach the totality of that solar eclipse. Neither is really quite aware of the tragic happenings of their very early years. Meanwhile, coming from an entirely different city, along with Mr. Reed flipping directions (and genders) as the exasperated dad, are Ryan Lawson-Maeske and his can-do sister, played by Jen Sinnen. A Kansas truck stop, as far from any ocean as they can get, may become their point of reunion.
Before the show, there's a little singing contest, with very low pressure, for kids in the audience (and the occasional adults) who've signed up before-hand. After that, during the story, the Shakespeare quotes and references go by without any intimidating fanfare. You may have fun pointing out the quotes you recognize to any children you bring along. But in the end, all the loose ends are tied up, and the last great quote (from Troilus and Cressida, of all things!) puts a lovely bow on the entire event.
My one gripe is that this show runs only on Saturdays at 4:00 pm, and lets out about 30 minutes after the gargantuan, full-length Aladdin next door at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. On opening day for this show at the Grandel, there was still plenty of traffic around Grand Center on the way home. Or you could just wait out the traffic and go upstairs with the kids, to enjoy the fun and games prepared for after this show.
A Most Outrageous Fit of Madness, through November 24, 2018, at the Grandel Theatre, 3610 Grandel Square (across from Powell Symphony Hall), St. Louis MO. For more information visit www.sfstl.com.