Play: A Life in the Theater, Lip Service
Group: Non-Prophet Theatre
Venue: Tin Ceiling, 3159 Cherokee
Dates: April 18,19,20
Tickets: $12 and $15; contact 314-752-5075 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Story: Actually, this presentation is comprised of two one-act plays. A Life in the Theater, by David Mamet, focuses on two actors, a veteran and a newcomer, and the changing nature of their relationship. Lip Service, by Howard Korder, is another two-character work, about a hotshot young TV host joining a veteran broadcast journalist on a local morning show and the subsequent development of their professional association.
Highlights: Director B. Weller has put together two plays with an interesting juxtaposition, as each of the two actors is able to play more or less opposite roles in the pair of comedies, and maintains a brisk pace. Mark Abels is humorously stuffy, prissy, self-absorbed and ultimately lonely in the Mamet work. He is nicely contrasted by Charlie Barron’s performance, in which Barron begins as an earnest if somewhat timid admirer of the older actor, but eventually eclipses him in professional potential and grows weary of the elder man’s antics. Barron’s humor is particularly amusing in his clipped responses and animated expressions.
The second work is less successful, if only because Barron’s character seems such a crude caricature, even vainer and more vacuous than the Ted Baxter character on the old Mary Tyler Moore Show. Abels, though, brings a warmth, integrity and quiet resilience to the veteran broadcaster being eased out to pasture, maintaining his civility even as barbarians storm the journalistic gate.
Other Info: Theresa Masters offers a cornucopia of costumes for the production, particularly with the various guises worn by the two performers. Nick Uhlmansiek presents two simple but effective sets, keeping focus appropriately on the players with his lighting. Weller contributes the sound design, most appealing in the pre-show and intermission selections but too repetitive during the plays, and Jonathan Ellison’s slide projections add just enough background for various Theater scenes.
Rating: A 3.5 on a scale of 1-to-5.