Play: Evie’s Waltz
Group: Repertory Theatre of St. Louis
Venue: Emerson Studio Theatre, Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road
Dates: Through November 9
Story: It’s a quiet afternoon, and Clay is preparing a simple dinner on the patio grill. He and his wife Gloria have invited Sandy, the mother of their 16-year-old son Danny’s girlfriend Evie, to their home to discuss a grave situation. Danny has been expelled from school for bringing a gun on campus, and his parents believe that Evie has had a significant influence on their son’s dangerous behavior.
Their day escalates from grim to scary when Evie arrives instead of her mother, and tells Clay and Gloria that all three of them are being targeted by Danny through the crosshairs of a rifle from some nearby woods. While Clay carefully attempts to decipher the puzzle that has led to this situation, Gloria engages in more direct and acerbic confrontation with the shrewd, smart-mouthed Evie. Evie then hints at a plan she and Danny may have, adding to the uncertainty and unease of the predicament.
Highlights: The Rep is presenting the world premiere of this two-act drama by Carter W. Lewis, playwright-in-residence at Washington University. As with previous efforts by Lewis, Evie’s Waltz is well written and absorbing material, clearly demonstrating that Lewis has a master’s touch at creating crackling dialogue and compelling situations.
Director Andrea Urice, who has overseen several of Lewis’ previous works, expertly guides her cast through the increasingly taut plot, building the pace from a leisurely start to a gripping climax. Additionally, she elicits fine performances from her trio of players, including a creepily effective portrayal by Magan Wiles as the emotionally disturbed Evie, who ironically shares with Danny a love of Strauss and tranquil waltzes.
Annie Fitzpatrick excels as well as the caustic, worldly Gloria, while Ted Deasy does what he can with the distasteful role of Clay, a spineless, mealy-mouthed metrosexual whose life is defined best by his temerity to make a “low-cal” apple pie rather than enjoy the real thing. Indeed, the faux dessert might serve as a metaphor for the artificial shallowness of this suburban couple’s relationship with their troubled son.
Other Info: There is splendid technical support by scenic designer Rob Koharchik, who assembles a highly recognizable, suburban patio complete with privacy fence and flower beds, and John Wylie’s lighting design is creepily effective when focusing on the individuals through the eyes of the absent Danny. Rusty Wandall’s sound design provides some disturbing and shocking moments, while the costumes by Dorothy Marshall Englis clearly define the differences between Evie and her boyfriend’s parents.
The major problem with the work is the characterization of Clay. It’s no surprise that the drama’s most provocative scene takes place while the weak and ineffectual husband is off-stage, and his eventual return only points out some significant problems with the script. Not withstanding that dilemma, Evie’s Waltz offers an evening of provocative and absorbing theater.
Rating: A 4 on a scale of 1-to5.