Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Backs Like That, Imago Theatre (Grade B)

Backs Like That was written by Carol Triffle
Danielle Vermette  .....  ChloeJerry Mouawad  .....  business Owner Morton
Darren McCarthy ..... Donnie the boyfriend
Kyle Delamarter ..... Joey the brother
Robert Gaynor ..... the Dad

sez says: this piece tends toward the Avant Garde -- it is about dysfunctional families, about people who think they have secrets, it is about trying to find a place in the world..., it is about having to carry around all the baggage of your life where ever you go. 
In this case, a lot of Chloe's baggage is in attendance at her first day of work at a new job. --that baggage would be her family --father, brother, boyfriend.  There are some very funny bits; some songs that won't make it to the top 40, but that fit snugly into this exploration.  The acting is wonderful, physical, comic, exploiting telling movements eloquently ... and the script is certainly thought provoking.   There is good reason it is not suggested for children --not so much becasue of sex or violence--but because the underside of family life is hard to explain. Original work, made in Portland and to be appreciated. (grade B--for good job)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Little Ugly, Vertigo (READING)

Playwrite: Jen Silverman
Director Jane Fellows

Darios Pierce   .....   Ze
Mario Calcagno   .....   Roma
Brooke Fletcher   .....   Little Ugly
JR Wickman   .....   Mikhail
ileana herrin, Jean Hunter & R David Wyllie --Chorus

sez says: this production,  presented in conjunction with The Classic Greek Theatre of Oregon, was a reading of a  new play by Ms Silverman. The play is harsh--and the reading was not always smooth--but the whole was more interesting than the sum of its parts.  Harvesting blood --killing dreams -- exploitation and suffering form the larger contours of the play. It is supposed to be loosely based on the Greek myth of Prometheus --who steals fire from the Gods and gives it to humans--then he must live in chains and literally be food for the birds for the rest of his life.  How the myth and the play fit together is not immediately apparent --but Roma does set Little Ugly free (gives her fire?) and his life is not looking too pleasant as a result.  This felt a lot like a work in progress from start to end and team Vertigo did a fine job getting it up off the ground to look at it. As a work in progress it is hard to grade. It contained interesting stuff, It was well written. But it seems to me like it belonged at JAWS where it could be worked on properly and brought into shape.  no grade

Lime Tree Bower, CoHo (Grade A)

Playwright: Conor McPherson
Director: Devon Allen
Joe   .....  Matthew Micucci
Frank, Joe's Older Brother   .....   Matthew DiBiasio
Ray, their sister Carmel's boyfriend   .....   Dennis Kelly

sez says: this play is a series of monologues --all pitch perfectly done. Using Irish accents that were realistic but never hard to understand we are given three characters who are storytellers of the first rank.  They are:  A young man--coming of age; An older brother, whose first concern is to help his father and who engages in daring -do to accomplish that end; A college professor who is a narcissistic prig of the first-order and who is an alcoholic--who provides never ending crude comic relief.  Mixed in there is rape and robbery and finally a resolution of sorts--for all but the girl.  Wonderful story telling--well done all round --and a beautiful set to-boot.  Grade A 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Portland Center Stage (Grade B+)

Director: Rose Riordan
Lyrics and Music by William Finn / Book by Rachel Sheinkin

Leaf Coneybear   .....   Connor Bond
Marcy Park   .....   Ka-Ling Cheung
Mitch Mahoney   .....   Gavin Gregory
William Barfee   .....  Isaac Lamb
Chip Tolentino   .....   Raymond J Lee
Rona Lisa Peretti   .....   Susannah Mars
Logainne'Schwartzy' Schwartandgrubeierre   .....   Ellie Mooney
Douglas Panch   .....   Darius Pierce
Olive Ostrovsky   .....   Sara Catherine Wheatley

sez says: this was a lot of fun. The personalities of pre--and early--pubescent children are a treasure trove for comedy.  And this story puts that gawky, awkward, ever so serious and delicate time of life on display without mockery.  Two performers stood out:  Isaac Lambs and Ellie Mooney. Both of these people put something extra into their parts that made them shine. Everyone else did great jobs -- but the physicality of Lamb and Mooney made the whole performance special.  The story is unmitigated fun, as contestants engage The Bee. And the audience participation was just right and added a touch of knowledge that every performance was being made into its own unique presentation based on strangers to the cast appearing on stage. The dancing too was top notch. The only down side was that some of the lyrics were impossible to hear/understand. That made a near perfect production lose some luster. (grade B+)