A Wild “Ride Down Mount Morgan” Keeps The Streak Going For The Year Of The Actor

John Pierson in bed is surrounded by those involved in his sham of a life- Julie Layton, Eric Dean White, Taylor Steward and Amy Loui. Photo: John Lamb

John Pierson in bed is surrounded by those involved in his sham of a life- Julie Layton, Eric Dean White, Taylor Steward and Amy Loui. Photo: John Lamb

St. Louis Actors’ Studio continues the powerful acting performances that have dominated 2014 thus far on local stages. Arthur Miller’s “The Ride Down Mount Morgan” is one of his later works- written in 1991- but it has a style and wit not usually associated with most of his  heavier plays but truly holds up against some of those better dramatic works. With Bobby Miller at the helm directing and some delectable acting performances, it can also hold up against some of the best works STLAS has done.

John Pierson is provocative as Lyman- a man who tries in vain to make bigamy a legitimate lifestyle. An automobile accident he ‘s involved in while driving down the treacherous Mount Morgan one rainy night puts him in the hospital where his nine year lie finally catches up to him. The question later comes up as to whether he may have deliberately tried to commit suicide to get out of the mess he has put himself in. His wife Theo- given a wonderful mix of sexiness and rigidity by Amy Loui- visits along with their daughter, Bessie. Young Taylor Steward gives a delightful performance as Bessie as she obviously will never forgive her father for his indiscretions but allows us to see her adoration for him in flashbacks, particularly in a trip the three make to Africa. While at the hospital, they run into Leah who introduces herself to them as Lyman’s current wife. It seems he married her nine years ago and she has always thought he had divorced Theo. Julie Layton shines as the equally upset “new” wife which doesn’t keep Lyman from trying to explain the rationale behind his decisions.  As he says, he loves them both equally, so what’s the problem? As Theo responds at some point in the play, “Why does anyone stay together when they realize who they’re with?”

Fannie Lebby soothes the forehead of John Pierson in "The Ride Down Mount Morgan" at STLAS. Photo: John Lamb

Fannie Lebby soothes the forehead of John Pierson in “The Ride Down Mount Morgan” at STLAS. Photo: John Lamb

Add to the mix Lyman’s friend, lawyer Tom, given a deft and charming yet totally exasperated performance by Eric Dean White and the hysterical turn by Fannie Lebby as Lyman’s nurse who acts as the casual observer and commentator on the bizarre goings on and you’ve got a delightful comedy of manners- or lack thereof. Director as well as sound designer, Bobby Miller has brought out all of the charm and wit of this outrageous and unusual piece from the master of drama, Arthur Miller.

The multi-level set design of Cristie Johnston works extremely well as it involves the hospital bed along with various other locations including the flashbacks in all of their lives. Bess Moynihan’s superb lighting design enhances the proceedings as well and Teresa Doggett’s costumes are perfect showing off the class of the ladies who have led a very good lifestyle with Lyman as their husband.

St. Louis Actors’ Studio continues to do great work as exhibited by their 18 nominations from the St. Louis Theatre Circle Awards for last year’s efforts. Arthur Miller’s “The Ride Down Mount Morgan” is just a whole lot of fun.

 

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