BWW Reviews: Dystopian Brilliance of AN INVITATION OUT by Mustard Seed Theatre

By: May. 01, 2015

Mustard Seed Theatre has provided St. Louis theater-goers with a wonderful season full of premiers that have captivated and entertained audiences. They close with an astoundingly engaging and timely work by playwright Shualee Cook titled An Invitation Out. This fresh pieces utilizes the tropes established by writers like Shaw and Wilde, but instead of an English drawing room, we find ourselves transported to the virtual reality of a chat room in the near future. To me, this is a cautionary tale that beckons us to take a hard look at how intoxicating an imagined world can seem, especially when it allows individual participants to present themselves as they would like to be perceived , rather than as who they actually are. It's challenging and engaging, and though people who have a natural aversion to all things computer related may not get the point, they should make the effort to stick with this tale, because it's a type of reality that is fast becoming concrete in nature.

Wridget is host to a popular chat room online, and because he's seen the joy that "unplugging", getting married, and having a child has brought to his sister (Buttercup) and her husband (FlyByNite), he decides to propose to Flutterbye. He's invited his Aunt Scandalicious, and his sibling and her mate have brought along their nanny, Raskin. Crashing the party is a hacker known as Xlucki, whose gender is purposefully nebulous in nature.

Bob Thibaut does a splendid job as the confused Wridget, who dreams of a life more fulfilling, but is afraid to take the plunge into the real world until he meets the rebellious Raskin, well played by Ellie Schwetye. Laura Ernst is the very definition of a narcissist as Flutterbye, in fact, it's her religion of choice. Alicia Reve Like is funny and bitchy at the same time as Wridget's Aunt Scandalicious, and Julie Venegoni (Buttercup) and Daniel Lanier (FlyByNite) do strong work as the married couple whose bliss Wridget aspires to emulate. Justin Ivan Brown and Nicole Angeli do a great job of playing Xluci in his/her various incarnations, and also as a butler and maid, respectively. Richard Strelinger neatly rounds out the cast as the Reverend Variety.Org, who's religious affiliation is as comically all over the map as his character's name would suggest.

Deanna Jent proves, once again, why she's so adept at bringing new plays to the stage. Her work here is simply superlative, aided in no small part by the sound/projections of Chris Jent. Mark Wilson's set design is a futuristic marvel, and Michael Sullivan's lighting design, along with Beth Ashby's costumes add immeasurably to the overall feel.

Playwright Shualee Cook has concocted a modern classic, with echoes of the past, that smartly conveys the world we're headed toward. We're privy to a time, most of which is already here, when avatars will allow us to escape our true selves, and conversations will be sprinkled liberally with witticisms that immediately become viral and part of the language we use. It's a scary and lonely future that's depicted, but it's one that we need to visit in order to better understand how technology is allowing us to escape from reality, when we actually need to supplant ourselves in the here and now to address cultural conditions and situations that are dividing us instead of uniting us. True brilliance is on display here.

Do yourself a huge favor and attend Mustard Seed Theatre's production of An Invitation Out. It's a disturbingly accurate view of the dystopian world we're headed toward with our over reliance on technological innovations in place of genuine human connections, and it continues through May 3, 2015.


Craig Carnelia Joins The Conservatory For The Performing Arts At Stephens College Photo
Craig Carnelia Joins The Conservatory For The Performing Arts At Stephens College

Broadway composer/lyricist Craig Carnelia joins The Conservatory for the Performing Arts at Stephens College as a Guest Artist, teaching 'Acting Through Song' for the fall semester. Learn more about Craig's esteemed career and his work with Broadway stars.


Kelly Howe follows up her incredible performance as Linda Ronstadt with another dynamic rock ‘n roll performance highlighting her immense range. She uses every type of timbre and quality from falsetto to chest/head voice and belt. While the song set won’t be revealed in this review in order to keep some of the mysterious fun of production, Howe does get to tear into the music of Jimi Hendrix, The Animals, Led Zeppelin, Tears for Fears, Patti Smith and Roy Orbison. Howe’s big voice delivers and rocks the house in a Stevie Nicks-esque performance. The music she and Hanrahan chose to include in this show offers something for everyone across generations of music lovers. The musical highlight of the night was 1978 hit “Because the Night” by The Patti Smith Band that was again covered in 1993 by 10,000 Maniacs featuring Natalie Merchant on vocals. Howe slayed this song while the audience nodded along with the drumbeat. One thing is certain, Howe knows how to deliver a rock ‘n roll song with grand panache.

Tony-Winning COME FROM AWAY Returns to the Fabulous Fox Theatre, November 3-5 Photo
Tony-Winning COME FROM AWAY Returns to the Fabulous Fox Theatre, November 3-5

Full casting has been announced for the touring production of COME FROM AWAY! COME FROM AWAY will begin performances in Columbia, SC at Koger Center for the Performing Arts October 17th.

Missouri Actors Learn To Shine Worldwide- THE BUSINESS OF ACTING Workshop Takes Perfo Photo
Missouri Actors Learn To Shine Worldwide- THE BUSINESS OF ACTING Workshop Takes Performers To The Next Level

MISSOURI ACTORS LEARN TO SHINE WORLDWIDE: The Business of Acting Workshop at Hi-Pointe Back Lot on 9/24 offers valuable insights and tips for actors to succeed in the industry. Led by experienced producer/director/actor Jessica Ambuehl, attendees will gain knowledge on the business side of acting and improve their marketability. Don't miss this opportunity to take your acting career to the next level.

From This Author - Chris Gibson


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Upstream Theater (10/13-10/29)
#repshow# in[i]# Fiddler on the Roof
Dale Williams Fine Arts Chapel (11/09-11/12)
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#repshow# in[i]# Adam Pascal
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#repshow# in[i]# BODYTRAFFIC
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