Monday, January 17, 2011

When We Go Upon The Sea, Profile Theatre Reading (B)

By Lee Blessing
Director Kathleen Worley
Don Alder   .....   George W Bush Jr ( ex-US President)
Jami Chatalas  .....  Anna-Lisa (the professional soother/prostitute. Piet's wife)
Chris Maslen  .....  Piet (the Butler)

sez says: this is a somewhat confusing piece..Bush has been called to The Hague to face War Crimes--for which we are told he will be convicted.  But the essence of the play seems to be how dare we blame GWB for doing the hard things that are required of our leaders. We are told that there are "the leaders and the masses" and the leaders are expected to take care of the masses, at great expense to themselves. And, if we are to understand the characters of Anna-Lisa and Piet, as our guides then our desire should be to selflessly work to 'sooth' those who 'keep us safe'.  But then GWB does not seem to understand well why Piet and Anna-Lisa offer their services and in face, one than once, he is made the butt of jokes.
When Piet talks of his grandfather's role in WW2 he understands that once you engage in war, once you commit to one side, terrible things WILL happen--that anyone in a war will do terrible things and that can not be avoided. So committing to anything past his Hotel--where he feels safe--is the greatest commitment he can make. He offers his all (including his wife) to 'the leaders' who keep him and safe in this little world.
At one point GWB says if people didn't want me to do what I did why did they let me? -- Why weren't they in the street....?   Well, they why is he asking that question? 
In sum--the acting was strong--especially Chris Maslen, who in new to Portland, and we hope to see him well employed here -- but the story was less thought provoking than it was unfocused and confused.

mjc says:  some speeches reminiscent of Jean Anouilh's Antigone about the hardships of leadership but the play lacks the moral challenge provided from Antigone's daughter.  Acting was generally fine but certainly we can celebrate the discovery of a new talent in town--Chris Maslen!

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