There’s more ferment afoot on St. Louis stages. Theatre Nuevo is bringing us Hell. Not literally, of course. (And I promise not to make any ill-tempered remarks using that as a theme for reviewing.)
Hell, the performance, is a combination of dance and skits on the obvious subject. It’s intimate in the venue of The Chapel, and interesting. Alas, like nearly everything done there, some of the dialogue is swallowed up in the high rafters, despite the fact that a performer could well be a mere five feet away. When the acoustics are combined with a performer who has to face only half the audience are dispersed on either side of the chapel’s nave, something literally gets lost.
Five performers and five musicians join forces in this. There are no credits for who’s actually responsible for the concept and dialogue, which turns out to be an accidental omission. Anna Skidis Vargas, the company’s artistic director and Hell’s director, explained that the whole company created the work.
That all sounds Serious. Fortunately, while the choreography is pretty close to serious, it’s also intriguing. And the skits, which comprise most of the evening, are generally quite fun, despite dealing with Big Issues. (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross might not be quite on board with everything, but….) The two folks who work in orientation at Hades are Elizabeth Van Pelt and Rahamses Galvan, occasionally removing their horns to cover other roles. Kevin Corpuz, La’Brie Jones and Amanda Wales are the new arrivals, whom we see both going and coming, so to speak.
The choreography is from Geoffrey Alexander. Special mention goes to Charlie Mueller’s music. He also plays the piano and leads the musical group of guitar (Logan Furey), drums (Dustin Allison) and cello, an unexpected but welcome addition (Michaela Kuba). Marshall Jennings is the particularly excellent vocalist. Costumes from Marcy Wiegert are amusing, and the set design by Max Viau has some eye-catching details.
Experimental theater is certainly on the rise in town. You could do much worse than spending a little over an hour (no intermission) with Theatre Nuevo dancing with the devils.
through January 29
6238 Alexander Dr.