Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL at 59E59 Six Fascinating New Plays

The St. Louis Actors' Studio and Artistic Director William Roth present the New York Premiere of the LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL. This fascinating group of one-act plays is now onstage at 59E59 through February 7th. The show consists of six individual pieces by playwrights Neil LaBute, Lexi Wolfe, Peter Grandbois & Nancy Bell, G.D. Kimble, JJ Strong, and John Doble. With superb direction by Milton Zoth and John Pierson, they have an intriguing variety of themes. Touching, humorous, at times shocking and even disturbing, each play has it's own original tenor. Bravo to the playwrights who are bringing new perspectives to the American stage.

The six plays received their World Premieres as part of the LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL, an annual festival of one-acts curated by St. Louis Actors' Studio. In STAND UP FOR ONESELF by Lexi Wolfe, an unlikely pair has a romantic encounter at a party. A provocative modern-day hook up via social media is depicted in Nancy Bell and Peter Grandbois' PRESENT TENSE. In TWO IRISHMEN ARE DIGGING A DITCH, G.D. Kimble skillfully incorporates a joke into the dark and disturbing nature of the play that is performed in two distinctive parts. JJ Strong's, THE COMEBACK SPECIAL is an entertaining comedic piece that unites Elvis with a young couple touring Graceland. COFFEE HOUSE, GREENWICH VILLAGE by John Doble is about a blind date in a bistro that goes totally awry. Neil LaBute's play, KANDAHAR tells the distressing story of a soldier who has returned from a tour of duty in Afghanstan. In his monologue, he makes a troubling confession of his violent actions toward his wife and fellow servicemen.

The cast features the acting talents of Mark Ryan Anderson, Justin Ivan Brown, Michael Hogan, Neil Magnuson, Alicia Smith, and Jenny Smith. Each of these thespians plays multiple roles that prove their remarkable versatility.

The transition between plays is seamless thanks to the fine design team with set design by Patrick Huber, lighting design by Jonathan Zelezniak and costume design by Carla Evans. The production stage manager is Seth Pyatt.

You will want to see LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL. They are original gems of plays that should have a long life in the theater.

The LABUTE NEW THEATER FESTIVAL is at 59E59 Street Theaters through February 7th. The theater is located at 59 East 59th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues). The running time is 2 hours including one ten minute intermission. The performance schedule is Tuesday - Thursday at 7:30 PM; Friday at 8:30 PM; Saturday at 2:30 PM & 8:30 PM; and Sunday at 3:30 PM & 7:30 PM. Tickets are $30 ($21 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279- 4200 or go to

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

Related Articles View More Off-Broadway Stories   Shows

From This Author Marina Kennedy