Sunday, October 31, 2010

Kiss Me Like You Mean It, Third Rail (Grade C-)

by Chris Chibnall
directed by  Slayden Scott Yarbrough
TONY  .....  Isaac Lamb
RUTH  .....  Lauren Bair
EDIE  .....  Jacklyn Maddux
DON  .....  Brian Thompson

sez says:  oh my-what has happened to Thrid Rail's Cutting Edge?  In past years you could count on them to pick provocative plays that challenge an audience.   This play is not bad..but it is not the least bit edgy.  It seemed to me to be more like a TV Sit-Com than a play. It is a pleasant little romp but it does not stimulate thought. It does not push us to think about or reconsider the world in any way at all.  It has a few 'bad-boy' moments -- like talk of testicles and senior citizens who enjoy sex and and older women who know curse words and can use them properly. (Ho hum--don't the young ones know that us geezers have sex and have been known to curse?)   This sort of stuff got a few laughs--but why I am not really sure.

Here is what we are given in this story:  Young folks need to find mates--and that is not always easy to establish. But when the opportunity arises it is important to be bold and to act, rather than miss the opportunity of finding a  life partner. And, two, when you know you are going to die, it makes sense to take matters into your own hands rather than to allow a disease to be in charge of your last days.  OK --and.... there is no more here than that...and all of this has been done much better elsewhere. I would have given this eve a lower grad if it were not for the acting--which was solid.  Also, the set was well done....but we need content for our good actors.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Touch, Theater Vertigo (Reading)

Writer Toni Press-Coffman
Director: Tamara Carroll
Danielle Larson
Brooke Fletcher
JR Wickman
Andy Lee-Hillstrom
Jenn Hunter

sez says: this is a wonderful play--the reading was a little bumpy at times but overall well done..and the story is really appealing.  Telling the story of a young man--geek/science student in high school. who falls in love with Zoe, marries her and lives, mostly happily every after, until the day she disappears and is later found murdered.  With many long monologues buttressed by dialogue that fills out people who encircle the primary character, this story explores the realm of the ways and means of human connectedness. How  strongly we are able to bond, how the tearing of that bond can leave us drained. How life without feeling or passion is deadening. How physical reality, emotional reality and even intellectual reality are tied together.  Our Vertigo Ensemble sure does pick great work to read and to perform, and that is appreciated.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Telethon, Portland Playhouse (Grade B)

Written by Kristin Newbom
Directed by Rose Riordan

Scott  .....  Michael O'Connell
Anne  .....  Valerie Stevens
Shelly  .....  Nikki Weaver
Lewis  .....  Casey McFeron
Larry  .....  Gary Norman

sez says: two care takers (Scott & Anne) and their flock (Shelly, Lewis & Larry) who are a trio of people inflicted with Cerebral Palsy, sit in a donut shop after various holiday fundraisers and unwind.  They are a family of sorts--or at least a community of individuals who know each other intimately.  They banter and brag and fight and joke-around like any group of close friends..except in this case, two are paid (paid very little $$ wise) to care for the other three.  The three who are the cared-for are part of the invisible word--the world we would rather not look at, so we shy away from them and their awkward jerky physical motions, and we seldom see them as people in the world.  But here, in this play, the audience is forced to see them as they are, just as nutty and aggressive and helpful and belligerent, and wanting to be accepted as the rest of us.  And they are sometimes care givers themselves--connected to each other and to their care givers via the interactions of everyday life.

This is not specifically about cerebral Palsy--it is about people caring about each other..and then moving on. It is about ephemeral relationships, that can be intense when they exist and then can be gone in the wink of an eye.  This is not told in a linear fashion, but rather it is presented as the sum of shared experiences and told via snippets of time that our group spends together. And then about how all that seems solid turns to dust, as life moves on and changes come from unexpected places.

Well acted. A gathering of people who won't be easy to forget.

MJC SAYS:  The acting pool has deepened and gained in skills since our arrival in Portland as demonstrated by this production.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Great Falls, Profile Theater (Grade A)

by Lee Blessing
Director, Jane Unger
Monkey Man  .....  Tim True
Bitch  .....  Ana Reiselman

sez says:  this is the story of a step-father and step-daughter who are deeply connected (as father and daughter) but who have been torn apart by a difficult divorce.  They are on a car trip across country initiated by the step-father and begrudging supported by the step-daughter.  Step-dad says he wants to talk--but does not do it when the opportunity is available;  Step-daughter is caustic, angry, verbally abusive, and very much in need of an adult to help her through a serious problem.  Neither party here is all right--or all wrong.  They struggle to find a way to heal the past and the present but there is no easy fix.  Dad claims there must be a place --a time--when he will no longer have to pay for his past discretion.  The daughter can not imagine a man --even a son--that deserves to exist.  Both are wrong.. there is no point when the the past is wiped away and there may be men in the world who are not monsters --one might be her step-dad, but the bridge to that place is tenuous.  Step dad sums it up with the line that was something like:  I wish I could do you good with doing you harm. 

Great acting and a really moving, contemporary story.

MJC Says: well acted, solid story, got emotionally engaged, what more can you ask. Thanks for making a step parent into a caring person and not a villain.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Iliad, Portland Center Stage, Grade A

Written by Denis O'Hare and Lisa Peterson, based on Homer's The Iliad
Directed by Penny Metropulos
Staring Joseph Graves

sez says: this is what theater is suppose to be, engaging, serious, alive, even breathtaking and full of purpose.  Rage is the beginning, an epic is told, but what is the human reality underlying the emotion and the history?  Why do humans war?  Strife raises its head and grows till it fills the sky, says our one man singer/storyteller.  He asks repeatedly, do you see what I am saying? can you really see it?   And no one can ignore what his words bring into the room. He makes us see even if we don't want to look. The energy required to provide this performance is extraordinary--but Graves ran this marathon--a full hour and 45 minutes, non-stop, without skipping a beat, or resting in the process.  This is a suburb piece of theater, beautifully done.