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August 22, 2014

Theatre review: Stray Dog's "Four Sugars" -- how sweet it is

A laugh-out-loud relationship comedy by local playwright Stephen Peirick, "Four Sugars," premiered Thursday with a tight ensemble creating memorable characters and smoothly delivering snappy dialogue.

Audiences have two more opportunities to see this funny free play, and there is a talk-back segment with cast and playwright afterward.

Peirick, whose first full-length play "Wake Up, Cameron Dobbs" was performed by two theater companies in St. Louis, received a grant from the Regional Arts Commission to help make this show a reality, and Stray Dog has produced it as part of their New Works Lab.

A local actor, writer and director, Peirick is a member of the Dramatist Guild of America, and has had one-act plays produced in 13 states.

He possesses a sharp ear for dialogue, writing the way real people talk to each other, and a flair for developing identifiable characters and situations.

"Four Sugars" focuses on roommates Alyse (Sarajane Alverson) and Travis (Jonathan Elkins), who are a green card marriage of convenience. She has a tempestuous relationship with an on-again, off-again boyfriend Ryan (Aaron Dodd), who is a tad immature. Alverson is hilarious as the prickly Canadian with mercurial moods.

Nice-guy Travis hesitantly starts a relationship with Shawn (Mitch Eagles), who can't stand the abrasive Alyse. Travis is torn being in the middle, loyal to his friend, but prioritizing new love.

Enter Jason Meyers, amusing as the Kramer-like nosy next-door neighbor Phil, who is a little too close to the action.

Events unfold, not all predictable, in a small apartment in Hollywood, as depicted by Ken Clark's cozy set design, and a couple locales in L.A.

Under Peirick's direction, the play snaps, crackles and pops. The sold-out audience Thursday raucously laughed throughout both acts.

The ensemble brings these characters to life with verve and fleshes them out with depth.

"Four Sugars" is an intimate, entertaining show that deserves a long life on stages around the country, and hopefully helps establish Peirick as an emerging playwright. Support this talented hyphenate and homegrown art!

"Four Sugars"

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Stray Dog Theatre, Tower Grove Abbey, 2348 Tennessee Ave., St. Louis

314-865-1995

Free admission but RSVP for tickets

www.StrayDogTheatre.org

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