Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘donald coburn’

The Gin Game
by Donald Coburn
Directed by John Contini
St. Louis Actors’ Studio
December 5, 2015

Peter Mayer, Linda Kennedy Photo by John Lamb St. Louis Actors' Studio

Peter Mayer, Linda Kennedy
Photo by John Lamb
St. Louis Actors’ Studio

St. Louis is a great theatre town, and we have a host of first-rate theatre companies with some top-notch talent. St. Louis Actors’ studio is one of those fine companies. The latest entry in their current season, The Gin Game, highlights the talents of two of St. Louis’s more renowned and remarkable performers.

The story takes place at the Bentley Home for Seniors, and revolves around the relationship between two of its residents, Weller Martin (Peter Mayer) and Fonsia Dorsey (Linda Kennedy) as the two get to know one another over a series of games of gin rummy. It’s a fairly simple premise, but there’s a lot more to this story than two people playing cards. Charles Coburn’s excellently crafted script uses the card games as an opportunity to reveal important aspects of the characters, as well as to make some subtle and not-so-subtle statements about society’s attitudes toward the elderly. The relationship dynamic is extremely well developed, as well, as the initially good-natured games develop a combative quality that tells us a lot about these two people and how they relate to each other, themselves, the other residents of the home, their families, and the world around them. It’s generally comedic in tone, but the mood gets more and more serious as the play progresses, expressing elements of regret and bitterness that lend drama to the characters’ witty exchanges.

The acting here is as excellent as the script, doing justice to the top-notch writing. Mayer’s Weller is alternately charming and acerbic, with a temper that reveals itself more in the succession of gin games. Kennedy’s Fonsia is warm, friendly and seemingly shy at first, although she soon displays a strength and competitive quality that surprises both Weller and the audience. The chemistry between the two is superb, as a tentative friendship grows into a more sparring type relationship where each one is, in his or her own way, vying for control. Mayer and Kennedy portray this relationship with expert precision, displaying a strong sense of comedy and drama as the story requires. The final moments of the play are powerfully effective, leaving an impression that is likely to keep the viewer thinking for a while after the lights go up. It’s a commendable feat for both performers, portraying a broad range of emotions and maintaining the pace of the play and bringing the characters to vivid life.

The set, designed by Cristie Johnston, is appropriately detailed, representing the somewhat neglected porch of the retirement home and setting the mood and atmosphere of the play well, in addtion to Carla Landis Evans’s props, which also contribute to the overall “lived-in” atmosphere of the set. Evans’s costumes fit the characters well, and Dalton Robison’s lighting is equally evocative and excellent.  I’m continually impressed by the production values of STLAS shows, considering the small stage they have to work with. That space is put to excellent use here, providing the ideal showcase for this well-written play and masterful performances.

The Gin Game is a celebrated play that has been revived several times on Broadway, including a production that’s currently running. At STLAS, the performances of Mayer and Kennedy are worthy to be celebrated. A sharply written, Pulitzer Prize-winning script and those excellent performances make this production a truly memorable and not-to-be-missed theatrical event.

Peter Mayer, Linda Kennedy Photo by John Lamb St. Louis Actors' Studio

Peter Mayer, Linda Kennedy
Photo by John Lamb
St. Louis Actors’ Studio

The Gin Game is being presented by St. Louis Actors’ Studio at the Gaslight Theatre until December 20, 2015.

Read Full Post »