BWW Reviews: HotCity Theatre's RED LIGHT WINTER

BWW Reviews: HotCity Theatre's RED LIGHT WINTER

Though this review is late in arriving, I wanted to publish it anyway because I found HotCity Theatre's production of playwright Adam Rapp's Red Light Winter so intriguing. This is a raw and edgy work that doesn't pull any punches. It's adult in its themes, and filled with rough language that initially shocks in its frankness. Though it's tone is often uneven, and some of the relationships seem a bit odd, HotCity's presentation is very well performed and skillfully directed. If you missed it, then you missed a fascinating piece of theatre that manages to get under your skin.

Matt and Davis are apparently former college buddies, now in their early 30's, who have made a pilgrimage to Amsterdam. It's an attempt by the more worldly, but less sensitive Davis, to get his pal to snap out of his depression and experience a little bit of depravity. The hooker he brings back to their hotel room is meant to be a present for the nerdy and repressed Matt. And, maybe it's meant to compensate for the fact that Davis stole his girlfriend Sarah. It's ambiguous in that respect. But, so is their friendship. Matt and Davis just don't seem to be very likely friends.

Austin Pierce is very good as Matt, nervous and completely ill at ease, he's on the verge of suicide when the door knocks and the lovely Christina arrives. Reginald Pierre swaggers with a confidence that is in direct contrast to his uncomfortable demeanor as Davis. They make for a rather mismatched pair, but I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Maggie Conroy delivers a brave and layered performance as Christina. She sees her job as an act, and as such develops a persona complete with French accent to hide behind while she conducts her business. She even breaks into song at one point. Twists and turns follow, with very little going the way you expect it to once the holiday is over and Matt and Davis return to the States. I don't want to spoil the plot, but I will say that Christina shows up unexpectedly. You'll have to see it yourself to find out what happens next.

Director Eric Little does a splendid job making this seedy and seamy little story palpable and entertaining. He draws fine performances from his cast and somehow makes what could be a rather disjointed work seem whole. Alan Chlebowski contributes a fine scenic design and atmospheric lighting, and Emily Montgomery provides the costumes.

HotCity Theatre's production is a fine example of the kind of cutting edge work they routinely stage. If you were unable to catch Red Light Winter (March 14-29 at the Kranzberg), then you definitely missed an interesting and memorable show.

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Chris Gibson Chris has been active in the local theatre scene for over 30 years. In addition to his acting work, he's also contributed as a director, writer and composer. Though, initially a film buff, he grew tired of the sanitized, PG-13 rated blockbusters that were being continually shoved down his throat by the studios. An opportunity to review theatre in St. Louis has grown exponentially with the sudden explosion of venues and talent in the region. He now finds himself obsessed with witnessing those precious, electric moments that can only happen live, on stage.

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