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Sunday, October 14, 2012

August Wilson's "Seven Guitars" @ Artists Rep

"Seven Guitars" has ample amounts of what we love about August Wilson:  poetic language, symbolism, and an epic scope, (this play is nearly three hours itself, and it is a companion-piece to the equally sweeping "King Hedley, II" which will open December 6th at Portland Playhouse.)Reflecting back on Wilson plays I have seen or read, I realize that many of them had violent scenes, but both "Seven Guitars" and "King Hedley, II" seem to thrive on their darker edge, which puts them in my top-three favorites of the 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle.

"Seven Guitars" centers around Floyd "Schoolboy" Barton and his attempt to improve his luck in Chicago with a new record deal, after a long-ago hit song, and the poor decisions that followed it. He wishes to rekindle his relationship with his old girlfriend and have her join him on this all-important journey. Along the way, he faces resentment from friends, and obstacles that would rival Ulysses, all without leaving...

The play is performed by a top-notch cast, quite a few of whom were part of Portland Playhouse's Wilson productions, including director Kevin Jones. Victor Mack (Canewell) has a presence that can only be described as charisma unhinged.

It is so gratifying to see August Wilson presented again by one of Portland largest theatre companies. (Portland Center Stage provided my first exposure to his work-"Fences" at the inaugural-season at the Armory, and I was sad to see them abruptly pull "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" a few years back......) To see Wilson preformed is a privilege, one we get to enjoy twice this year....

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