Wordy “The Way We Get By” Entertains Despite Itself At St. Louis Actors’ Studio


Andrew Rea and Sophia Brown have both hot and cool conversations during “The Way We Get By” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo: John Lamb

Neil LaBute’s wonderful Festival Of One-Acts each summer at the St. Louis Actors’ Studio is one of the best things to look forward to in St. Louis theatre. It has even transformed (along with one other STLAS production) to Off Broadway in New York for the past few years. Now we’re treated to an extended one-act from Mr. LaBute during their regular season- the intriguing “The Way We Get By.”

With the trademark halting speech and doing the end-around from characters that exemplify so much of his work, Neil LaBute might have considered taking a few swipes with the scissors on this one. There is a big reveal that, unfortunately comes almost half way through this 90 minute one-act and it rather feels that we’ve been cheated in a certain way by doing this dance with the after sex discussions ranging from near regret to heights of giddiness. Because everything changes after we find out about their background and then the truly serious complications go roaming through out thoughts.


Things get serious for Sophia Brown as Beth and Andrew Rea as Doug in the STLAS production of “The Way We Get By.” Photo: John Lamb

Thankfully we’re blessed with two wonderful actors and a beautifully conceived production that keeps us on the edge of our seats. Andrew Rea gives a superb performance as Doug as he feels a strong aversion to having a second go after the sex the night before seems to have been spectacular. As Beth, Sophia Brown- so wonderful in the STLAS production of “Three Tall Women” earlier in the season- is a breath of fresh air as she makes all the right moves but soon gets bogged down as well after they have the “discussion” that would probably throw a damper on any relationship. They do have great chemistry together on stage.

Director Nancy Bell works her magic spell as she pulls out all the stops in this scintillating relationship- definitely for mature audiences only. Despite the hesitant speech and working around personal foibles as the first half of the play unfolds, you’re fascinated to know just where this will all lead. Patrick Huber’s set design is perfect depicting a New York apartment which includes an important part of the plot- a swivel chair that takes on a special significance. Mr. Huber also designed an effective lighting design while the costume design by Carla Landis Evans features the “less is more” approach- perfect for “The Way We Get By.”

Neil LaBute has a distinctive touch with modern issues and his one-acts which open the summer seasons of his Festival at St. Louis Actors’ Studio are always splendid as they lead the way for unknown playwrights across the country to display their wares for, often, the first time. “The Way We Get By” might have worked better as a shorter piece but once we get to the heart of the matter, it really poses some serious questions. I can’t imagine similar problems arising in most relationships, but it’s truly food for thought.


Sophia Brown and Andrew Rea in “The Way We Get By” at St. Louis Actors’ Studio. Photo: John Lamb

“The Way We Get By” plays at St. Louis Actors’ Studio through February 26th. Contact STLAS at 314-458-2978 for tickets or more information.



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