3 non-holiday plays let you escape the season but not the family drama | St. Louis Public Radio

3 non-holiday plays let you escape the season but not the family drama

Dec 2, 2015

‘Tis the season for blue-light specials and blow-up Santas. But if you want to get away from December’s traditional trimmings, three plays open this week that have nothing to do with the holidays.

Except for one thing. Like the season, the productions are all about relational angst. Cue the piercing release of pent-up resentment and painful regret. At least it won’t be tied up with a big shiny bow.

'Bad Jews'

“Bad Jews” by Joshua Harmon centers around a grandfather’s death, and a question: Who will get the gold religious relic called a “chai” that he tenaciously kept from the Nazis during World War II?

Three cousins, along with one's non-Jewish girlfriend, come for shiva and end up in the fray over who’s more deserving, who’s the “real” Jew. Whether you’re Jewish or not, the play’s press promises it will remind you of your own family — and maybe even yourself.

“Bad Jews” is presented by New Jewish Theatre and directed by Sydnie Grosberg Ronga. It's playing at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Dr. 

'Gin Game'

Peter Mayer and Linda Kennedy in Gin Game by St Louis Actors Studios
Credit St. Louis Actors Studio

One-upmanship is also a theme of D.L. Coburn’s “Gin Game,” presented by St. Louis Actors’ Studio. But in this play at the Gaslight Theater, 358 N. Boyle Ave., it’s two strangers in a nursing home whose fresh interactions flesh out old wounds.

A feisty older man starts out playing solitaire (metaphor, anyone?) but spies a deceptively prim woman who might be a worthy gin-rummy partner. Turns out they’re both divorced and estranged from their adult children.

As the cards fly, so do the emotions — especially when she gets the upper hand — in “Gin Game,” directed by Bobby Miller.

'Sublime Intimacy'

Alfredo Solivan as The Dancer in Sublime Intimacy
Credit John Lamb

Letting go of competitive impulses and daring to reveal one’s inner self can be painful — but also sublime, as Ken Page’s original play “Sublime Intimacy” explores.

The world-premiere staging of the Max & Louie production tells the tale of five friends remembering how their hearts were once stirred by dance, and certain dancers.

The presentation at the Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Ave., leads us into non-traditional territory by examining questions like whether true connection must involve a sexual relationship. The story is told through dance, music and visual art.

Some St. Louisans may literally see themselves in “Sublime Intimacy." Director Page based many of the characters on people who live in the area — including himself.

“Sublime Intimacy” looks inward as well as backward, into the past. But all three plays opening this week demonstrate that life only goes forward, into the future.

THE BASICS

‘Bad Jews’

Where: Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Dr., 63146

When: Dec. 3-20

How much: $39.50-$41.50

Tickets: Vendini ticket sales

Information: New Jewish website

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‘Gin Game’

Where: The Gaslight Theater, 358 N. Boyle Ave., 63108

When: Dec. 4-20

How much: $35; $30 students, seniors

Tickets: Ticketmaster

Information: St. Louis Actors’ Studio website

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‘Sublime Intimacy’

Where: Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 North Grand Blvd., 63103

When: Dec. 4-20

How much: $40; $35 students, seniors

Tickets: Brown Paper Tickets

Information: Max & Louie website

Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL