Elusive “Caught” At The Rep Studio Will Blow You Away As It Blows Your Mind

caught-lecture

Kenneth Lee opens the play with an art lecture in “Caught” at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Studio Theatre. Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

Truth versus lies, reality versus perception, facts versus fake news and even as basic as black versus white. These concepts are explored and dissected in the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis Studio production, “Caught” by Christopher Chen. When you enter the theatre you are handed a program but not a standard program with cast list, bios and such- instead it’s a guide to the art installation which has been constructed in front of the stage. The usher says you will receive the real theatre program as you exit this 90 minute masterpiece.

Director of “Caught,” Seth Gordon gets some stage time as he introduces the speaker for the evening, Chinese dissident and artist of these works, Lin Bo. He talks about his time in prison as a result of his art and gets very descriptive about some of the atrocities of his time behind bars. All the while he is clicking through a series of pictures that show his work and some informational background on his ordeal. Sweep away the art display and we are in editorial offices at the New Yorker.

caught-three

Kenneth Lee, Jeffrey Cummings and Rachel Fenton chat in the offices of the New Yorker in the Rep Studio production of “Caught.” Photo: Jerry Naunheim,Jr.

This is where the fun begins as Lin Bo, a personable Kenneth Lee, goes through another form of interrogation by the writer of a special New Yorker piece on his life. Rachel Fenton is perfect as the sunny writer/editor, Joyce, until her questions suddenly become a bit darker and sinister. She is assisted by another member of the editorial board, Bob, played with intensity by Jeffrey Cummings. She is stern but he is a roaring lion ready to attack.

caught-interview

Rachel Lin and Rachel Fenton have an off kilter interview in “Caught” at the Rep Studio. Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

The infamous fourth wall is totally shattered in the next scene when Joyce takes on a new persona to interview the playwright- a female named Wang Min who is given a spirited portrayal by Rachel Lin. Playwright, you say- playwright of what? The play “Caught?” But a man, Christopher Chen wrote the play. Don’t ask- you’ll figure it out (maybe) by attending the play, but you’re likely to find more questions than answers. This scene in particular leads us through a fanciful circular dialogue that seems to confuse and enlighten despite itself.

caught-twolaughing

Rachel Lin and Kenneth Lee crack each other up during the final scene of the Rep Studio production of “Caught.” Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

The play is like a trip through a garden maze when you come so close to finding the exit but another obstacle suddenly appears. I even appreciate the various word plays throughout including the use of the word “appropriate” in one scene with emphasis on the “Ate” meaning to take against another’s will. Then in the next scene we hear it again as appropri-ut meaning perfectly acceptable. So, on many levels this play distorts every perception of what you consider to be true and makes you wonder just what is real. Just like an ordinary day in America under Trump.

Scenic designer Robert Mark Morgan has crafted a clever and ambitious set (especially for the small Studio space) to open us up to this almost magical world. The Ann G. Wrightson lighting design also works well as do the Felia K. Davenport costumes and the subtle sound design of Rusty Wandall. Besides the stellar cast, the star of this show is director Seth Gordon who has taken this enigmatic play and turned it into an “Alice In Wonderland” for a modern age.

caught-threestand

Things get heated as Kenneth Lee, Jeffrey Cummings and Rachel Fenton battle in “Caught” at the Rep Studio. Photo: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

“Caught” is at the Rep Studio through March 25th. The 90 minute, no intermission running time will leave you plenty of time to enjoy a nosh and discuss this intriguing and ethereal play- plan on thinking about it long after you’ve seen it. Call the Rep at 314-968-4925 for tickets or more information.

 

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