News Ticker

Neil LaBute

LaBute New Theater Festival 2019

January 16, 2019

An exhilarating trio of short plays by that noted cultural provocateur Neil LaBute make their New York City premieres in this edition of the LaBute New Theatre Festival 2019.  Since 2013, the St. Louis Actors’ Studio with the support of Mr. LaBute who is an acclaimed film director, screenwriter and playwright has held an annual festival of one-act plays. This incarnation is unique as it is comprised solely of works of his which is probably why it is so potent. [more]

Summer Shorts 2018 – Festival of New American Short Plays: Series B

August 5, 2018

The plays in Summer Shorts 2018 - Festival of New American Short Plays have often had a theme running through all the offerings in one evening, however they were concealed or obscured. This year’s Series B is about two-character relationships at a tense moment in their developments, sort of sparring partners as one of the plays calls it. Unfortunately, the plays in this series by Neil LaBute, Claire Zajdel, and Eric Lane all need further work as they are premises rather than finished plays. [more]

2018 LaBute New Theater Festival

January 15, 2018

With the support of film director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute, the St. Louis Actors’ Studio has held an annual festival of one-act plays since 2013.  This is the third year that the festival has been presented at 59E59 Theaters in New York City, and it’s a very enjoyable program. [more]

Summer Shorts 2017: Festival of New American Short Plays – Series B

August 12, 2017

While the three plays in Summer Shorts 2017: Festival of New American Short Plays – Series B have been given proficient productions each seems ultimately unsatisfactory. All seem like first drafts rather than completely fulfilling their potential. The three authors could learn a lesson from the three plays in Series A which all hit their marks. Interesting experiments but failures nevertheless. [more]

All the Ways to Say I Love

September 30, 2016

"All the Ways to Say I Love You" is refreshingly free of this formula. The incidents are straightforwardly depicted and the circular conclusion is simple. LaBute palatably sets up the situation by establishing that the male student is a senior who has had to repeat a year of school, so he is clearly a young adult. It is implied that he is African-American and it is stated that Mrs. Johnson’s emotionally distant husband is of mixed race. Despite these intriguing elements, the play narratively peaks halfway through and then grinds on. [more]

Summer Shorts 2016 – Series A

August 1, 2016

As might be expected LaBute’s new one act, "After the Wedding," contains a shocker. However, when it arrives in Maria Mileaf’s production, it is so matter-of-fact that it has little or no impact. Elizabeth Masucci and Frank Harts play a married couple of six years. Named simply “Him” and “Her,” they alternate telling (different) versions of their years together without interacting. However, both of them recall an event that occurred on their way to their honeymoon which should have been a game-changer. For these self-absorbed people millennials, it was simply another incident along the way. Sitting in chairs facing the audience, Masucci and Harts are rather charming as the amoral couple but the play seems like a scene from a longer play not yet written. [more]

2016 LaBute New Theater Festival

January 19, 2016

The opening one is British author Lexi Wolfe’s delightfully wistful "Stand Up for Oneself."  It’s a Chekhovian romantic comedy with clipped Noel Coward-style dialogue taking place in the room of a house where a party is going on.  Lucas, a 42-year-old morose music professor sits alone drinking with his cane nearby when the free-spirited 26-year-old Lila enters. There is flirtation and revelations.  Sensitively directed by John Pierson, the play’s very fine writing is boosted by the wonderfully detailed and effecting performances of Alicia Smith and Mark Ryan Anderson.  [more]

Summer Shorts – Festival of New American Short Plays 2015 – Series A

August 1, 2015

Summer Shorts – Festival of New American Short Plays has returned to 59E59 Theaters for its 9th annual outing offering six world premieres by famous playwrights, as well as some who ought to be more well-known, along with different casts and directors for each. The three plays in Series A are a fascinating grouping of new one acts in which women attempt to manipulate their companions for various ends. Neil LaBute, Vickie Ramirez and Matthew Lopez take very different stories and handle them in distinctive ways. All of these new plays can use a bit of pruning, but they are all works that will get under your skin and stay with you. [more]

The Way We Get By 

May 31, 2015

Mr. LaBute achieved prominence by writing and directing the films "In The Company Of Men" (1997) and "Your Friends and Neighbors" (1998). These scabrous works were followed by the unsettling play "The Shape of Things" in 2001, where a young woman seeks to physically transform her nerdish boyfriend into the perfect man. In succeeding years New York City has seen the premieres of a succession of such idiosyncratic formulaic explorations of the relationships between men and women. Here, this shtick is weak and totally unrewarding. [more]

The Money Shot

October 2, 2014

Lanky, animated, and with his characteristic twang, Fred Weller is very lively and appealing as the dim franchise star Steve. Elizabeth Reaser winningly captures the insecurity and self-absorption of the fading female star Karen. With physical sight gags to work with, such as a bizarre cheerleading dance inspired by Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," and overindulging in hors d'oeuvres, GiaCrovatin makes the most of the proverbial blonde bimbo Missy. [more]

Summer Shorts 2014: Series A

July 30, 2014

Warren Leight's "Sec. 310, Row D, Seats 5 and 6" is the most ambitious of the three plays as it attempts to cover 20 years in the lives of three friends who share a two-seats subscription at Madison Square Garden for the Knicks games. "Riverbed" deals with the loss of a child by married couple Adam and Megan in a freak drowning accident. The theme of men's friendships when they are away from their women is also evident in the curtain raiser, Roger Hedden's "The Sky and The Limit." [more]

Power Plays

June 16, 2014

The obvious initial reaction without taking into context their mission is that the plays deal with or lend power in some way, together or separately to the characters, to the audience. That is, of course, the primary goal, usually. Not, however, in this case. [more]