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Monday, February 18, 2013

"Red Herring" @ Artists Repertory Theatre

Artists Repertory Theatre seems to have read my mind when they planned this season. "Seven Guitars" is one of my top three August Wilson plays, and a prequel to one of the other plays on that short list, "The Lost Boy" tapped into my obsession with True Crime, and now "Red Herring" feeds my endless appetite for film noir.

"Red Herring" is a thoroughly twisty mix of noir detective story, paranoid spy thriller, and somewhat unexpectedly, a hilarious exploration of love and marriage. It is very refreshing to see a show with those three genres, and to have most of the comedy result from the romantic angle rather than a spoof of the other two. Michael Hollinger is a gifted writer, and I hope to see more of his work in the future.

The set is magical, I was chatting with the Marketing Director and she said that even though she has seen it from all angles, she is still mystified by it.

At the end of this roller-coaster of a show, I was reminded of that famous conversation director Howard Hawks had with novelist Raymond Chandler while adapting "The Big Sleep," Hawks asked Chandler who killed Owen Taylor, and Chandler himself didn't know...

"Red Herring" is a wonderful show, if anyone out there was late with a Valentine's Gift, this might be just what you're looking for.....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"Venus in Fur" @ Portland Center Stage

"Venus in Fur" is a stunning show. Stunning in the way it bombards the viewer with head-spinningly fast reversals of power and particularly in the way Ginny Myers Lee manages to essentially play three characters at once. When we meet her she is goofy Vanda, a seemingly air-headed actress who auditions for Thomas's (David Barlow)  adaptation of "Venus in Furs," a novel by Leopold Von Sacher Masoch, the man who lends his name to the word "masochism".  As she disappears into role of a dominatrix, we see for the first time she is not who she seems. Then she later begins to take on attributes of the character outside of scene work and becomes an entirely different person. Along the way, the play explores the attraction of power and control in relationships as well as the creative process.

It is an edgy play, but interestingly, only in what is said. There is no nudity, and yet it can almost seem pornographic at times. It is a mindbinder. It is exceptionally tense, and yet often funny. I absolutely loved it. It is without a doubt my favorite production at PCS so far this season! (I like the edgy stuff a lot....) But, I wouldn't take your grandmother....