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Saturday, May 30, 2015

"The Liar" at Artists Rep

To miss "The Liar" would be a crime
A comedy delivered all in rhyme
You'll have the time of your lives at this play by David Ives 
He has a knack for adaptations, that's for sure
He also wrote "Venus in Fur
The play has lies, laughs, and a love letter
And I promise you their rhymes are better

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Three Days of Rain @ PCS

I've been toying with the idea of adding a kind of Season Wrap-up article to this site. In this article I would select the best show from each of the theatres to whose Press List I belong. I'm thinking of calling the awards "The Crippys," what do you think? It is with this in mind that I hereby award "Three Days of Rain" Portland Center Stage's "Crippy" I went back through my reviews of PCS' current season, and though I really loved "Dreamgirls" for its theatrical dazzle, I think "Three Days of Rain" wins easily overall.

I wanted to live inside Scott Fyfe's set, and I haven't been this struck by the subtle and thus, often overlooked, lighting design since "Sweeney Todd," and unsurprisingly, the same person,  Dianne Ferry Williams is responsible for both shows.

And it always a pleasure to see celebrity actors, in this case, Silas Weir Mitchell and Sasha Roiz, both of TV's "Grimm",  filmed in Portland. If you happen to have never been to PCS's gorgeous Armory building in the Pearl District, I can't imagine a better introduction.

Now, the only question that remains is whether Portland Center Stage is brave enough to publicize that they are the first recipients of a "Crippy". We shall see!

Monday, May 18, 2015

"Static" @Third Rail Rep

One of the greatest things about art of all kinds is its ability to make you see things in a new way. Usually when I use that particular line of praise, I am speaking about big things. But, "Static" taught me that art can also help us see new significance in the mundane. See, when I listen to music, it's a very personal, solo experience. Yet, it doesn't have to be. The characters in "Static" share music generously, they bond over it. They heal by it. I am thankful to be shown the power of this, I think it's something I needed to be reminded of. That's yet another great thing about art: Each of us gets to choose what to take from it, and I will treasure what it taught me for quite a while. "Static" is flat-out wonderful, and I'd recommend that you rush to see it. You never know what you might draw from it.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

"The Lion" @ Portland Center Stage

"The Lion" is not the show it appears to be. The trailer I saw was essentially a clip from an upbeat little tune about a child playing music alongside his musician father. In other words, a pleasant way to spend eighty minutes. Instead, those promised happy moments are brief, and concentrated mostly in the beginning. It's not long until the tone changes drastically. Normally I count this shift as a good thing, there's nothing I like better than a deeply affecting show, but there's cancer involved. In that case, I would have preferred to skip it. My mother has had cancer twice, and she was my guest last night.  I cringed through the entire song about chemo. But, my mother is the most optimistic person I know, and her biggest take-away from the show was how the diagnosis brought the scattered and somewhat estranged family together. Looking back, that was probably among the points the playwright was trying to make, but by that time I had retreated halfway into my "happy place." I guess the best thing I can do for you is to tell you to be prepared, and if you are, there might be something you'll be glad you saw, as my mother was. Me, I'm angry at the marketing department.....

Sunday, May 3, 2015

4,000 Miles @ Artists Rep

I must confess that I approached "4000 Miles" with trepidation. I had just recently seen another Amy Herzog play, "Belleville" at Third Rail Rep and I was angered by the contemptuously unanswered questions at the end. While I did have some minor issues with Herzog's script this time, (the play is littered with fragments of dialogue that scream, "this piece of information will become important later" with little to no pay-off in the end), but that's easy to overlook. What makes "4000 Miles" unmissable is Vanna O''Brien's performance as grandmother Vera Joseph, a role she also played in Portland Playhouse's production of "After the Revolution," which I now regret I missed. I don't think that seeing that show would have filled in many of the blanks, because I have vague memories of reading "Revolution" on behalf of Portland Center Stage, and that play focused on the daughter of the family, I don't even recall a son, but this is still good advice: Do not repeat my mistake, see this one while you can.