Wednesday, July 20, 2011

PERSONAL, a Made In Oregon JAW Reading, 2011

by Brian Kettler
director Jessica Nikkel


Lucy   .....   Jennifer Rowe
Ronald   .....   Nick Schultz
Raef   .....   Casey McFeron
Greg   .....   Eli Blue Eagle
Alice Cain   .....   Lauren Luiz
Bixby Daniles   .....   Zach Virden
Kim   .....   Morgan Cox
Stage Directions   .....   Kelsey Tyler

plot outline: Alice Caine is a 'perfect girl' beautiful, humble, friendly to all... and  she is the star of a TV show that is about to come to an end, but wait the STAR-Alice has disappeared --all the kids in town are distraught--and many have been institutionalized because they are so depressed --and they need to be reprogrammed to forget about Alice.  Ah but there is a twist ...

sez says: this was not very good. It has no idea about what young women are like--it is even rather unkind toward young women in general --at one point it even says a beautiful girl like Alice who is nice can not really exist--she has to be 'created' --and of course she is miserable.  The readers all did a fine job --but the material was hardly worth the effort.

mjc says: childish, but without a child's perspective

ANTARKTIKOS a Made In Oregon JAW reading, 2011

by Andrea Stolowitz
Directed by Gemma Whelan

Susan    .....   Valerie Stevens
Hilary   .....   Amy Newman
Alex   .....   Isaac Lamb
Robert Falcon Scott   .....   Michael Fisher-Welsh
Stage Directions   .....   Sharon McDonald

plot: Susan thinks she is in Antarctica--but really she is in a coma following a bike accident--that followed an argument with her daughter Hillary.  Susan thinks Alex is the welcome wagon at the South Pole--when he is really an EMT worker.  Susan gets Alex to promise to watch over Hillary.  Alex takes the promise seriously and will not leave when Hillary arrives at her mother's bedside.   So various realities are set up.. .. the reality in Susan's head: she is in Antarctica talking with Scott about his trip to the pole and the reality in the hospital room.

sez says: the structure and plotting of this play are perfect. The story manages to hold the audience in suspense wondering what is real and where will this all go .. in the meanwhile some serious conversations take place..between Scott and Susan (about what is bravery and what constitutes a hero), between Alex and Susan (   ... ) and between Hilliary and Alex (about promises and loyalty) --and finally between Susan and Hillary (who needs whom in a mother daughter relationship that can so easily be taken for granted--and the whys and hows of this being such an indestructible bond).  I'd get in line to see a full production.

mjc says:  it was well written piece and especially enjoyable after having recently heard the story of Scott and Amundsen at a local Urban Tellers performance

FORKY, a Made in Oregon JAW reading 2011

by Matthew B Zrebski
director Michael O'Connell

Banks   .....   Spencer Consay
Macy   .....   Melissa Kaiser
Evan, Karl, Mr Davenport Crispy Cash   .....   Gavin Hoffman
Jewel, Room for Cream, Victoria, Tonya   .....   Brooke Fletcher
The Sperm Coroner, Combo   .....   John Steinkamp
Stage Directions   .....   Casselle La Tourette

plot: should have Banks and Evan followed the path of a gay relationship? 

sez says: all decisions are not easy to make --and sometimes you look back and wish you had done things differently .. if you get caught in this loop you might even discover that you can't figure out how to order you coffee any more.  Humm-- well if every decision you make is actually not a decision--but one path of many that are in fact transpiring in the universe (ie it is suggested that with every decision that is made a fracture takes place - ie: the decision makes a fork in the road -- and at that fork there is a fracture that sets off two realities, the reality that you are aware of, and, another reality, that is a reality that runs in the direction of the other fork not followed).  OK, so you can buy that or not-- and I know string theory and alternate realities / parallel universes are all the rage in physics these days ... but this did quite get us to the meat of that science.  But there was some fun dialogue here and the Sperm Coroner idea was fabulous. It worked well ..  but more work is needed to tighten this up and I think it needs a new name

mjc says: clever premise, probably would have been better as a full production than it was as a reading

CONTINUUM, at Made In Oregon JAW-- 20011 Reading

by Patrick Wohlmut
director Stan Foote
Peter   .....   Tim Blough
Craig   .....   Chris Harder
Guard   .....   Jennifer Rowe

story line Peter is an astronomer who blew his promising career for reasons of his own.  Craig is a math savant who also has a history that compels him to have reasons to mislead people around him.  The reasons are revealed --in flash back form -- while Peter visits Craig in a prison and tries to find out why Craig betrayed him by misappropriation of research funds. Hint hint--it is all about fathers and sons

sez says:  a work in progress with great promise.  A serious topic -- fathers and sons and agendas that at first blush seem mysterious.  One thing is it needs to be cut/consolidated by about about 20% and the number of flashback jumps need to be reduced.  Good job reading.

mjc says: a  hard romp throuhg science and the heart

You Can't Take It With You, Annoynomus Theater, (Grade C)

sez says: too bad the venue was changed--we were toward the back of the auditorium and we could not hear about 20% of the dialogue.  But the parts we could make out and the frolicking on the stage WILL get us back next year to this much cherished and anticipated annual event!  I recommend the 1930s Frank Capra film version for more fun than this particular effort offered.

mjc says--not as good as last year (Lend Me A Tenor) They just didn't reach the level that made you let go the hitches that are inevitable in such a production.

One Night With Janis Joplin, Portland Center Stage (Grade B)

created and written by Randy Johnson
Musical Director & Arrangers Len Rhodes

Janis Joplin   .....   Moriah Angeline
Blues SInger   .....  Sabrina Elayne Carten
Background vocalist   .....  Marisha Wallace

sez says:  hummm what are we to make of this--what exactly should we call it?  It is not really theater, and it is not really a concert, and it is neither great nor awful. It is a form of entertainment--but a funny kind of entertainment.   I guess I'd say it is neither Fair Nor Foul. Not fair--because it is usurious of Joplin and her name and her music while pretending to duplicate it --but it is not entirely Foul--because it is, in parts, an entertaining homage to Ms Joplin.  Joplin was a somewhat tortured woman and you'd never know that by watching this..and as good as the singers were--they are NOT Joplin.  And, a personal beef, while the imported black singers were very good--what's up with not using local talent?  We DO have some amazingly great Black women singers in PDX..why are they never hired at PCS?

mjc says:  musicians were great, the woman who did the Joplin singing hit the right spirit on a couple of songs, and the blues singer could have been more powerful in the play--and in her presentation of the music,