Monday, November 06, 2006

"Ordinary" new play is far from ordinary

My freelance review:
"Ordinary Nation," a brand-new play being performed at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, offers a rich story of a small family and the complex choices they make. And the play succeeds wonderfully on so many levels!

Playwright Carter Lewis, of St. Louis, describes his story as an attempt to explore "how the larger politics of the country impact the smaller politics of a family--and more importantly, vice-versa."

And indeed, politics are front-and-center as the play opens with Allison Jones (Angela Reed) setting her family aside to focus on the political campaign of Gibb Aston (Curt Hostetter), much to the distress of her husband Nation Jones (Gregory Northrop), an economics professor, and wisecracking teen-age daughter Frankie Jones (Dana Acheson).

These rich characters, as well as the character of G.J. Jones (George Bartenieff), the grandfather/bookie, complete the small cast and offer interesting perspectives throughout the story -- and entertaining human eccentricities, too.

Lewis' writing is razor-sharp but, at the same time, feels "real" and not contrived. The top-notch acting, especially from Norththrop and Acheson, is also to credit for this.

There is a lot to savor from this intimate play, presented in the downstairs Studio Theatre at the Rep. Aside from the enjoyment of watching this entertaining play, there's the thinking that the play triggers -- both during and afterwards -- about what motivates each of us to make the choices we make in life.

I am already envisioning a future film version of this play, by the way. William Hurt and Meryl Streep would make a wonderful Nation and Allison Jones! But, then again, Hollywood might be motivated to dumb-down the story for wider appeal...

"Ordinary Nation" plays through November 12 at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

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