Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The People’s Republic of Portland—Portland Center Stage—downtown Portland



The White Butterfly Affect

This one-woman, world premiere, comedy is written and performed by Lauren Weedman.  It is directed by Rose Riordan and is playing at their location at 128 SW 11th Ave. through June 16th.  For further information go to www.pcs.org or call 503-445-3700.

Talk about your storms in Texas.  Well, last night, we had a whirlwind from LA blow into Portland.  Her name is Lauren Weedman.  And she devastated PCS’s Ellyn Bye performance space.  And, so what happens when an unmovable, unpredictable, urban force from “down there” meets an equally stubborn force from “up here?”  Simple answer, Chaos (but in a good way)!

Lauren expounds on her visit to Portland, hitting the highlights and the lowlifes.  Her short stay includes the coffee house culture; the Kennedy school and Geek trivia night (sampling bong in a bottle); an encounter group right out of the 60’s/70’s (if you remember that era, you weren’t there); rapturous adventures in a black church with its oh, so charismatic, minister; helpful townies; strip clubs; teenagers’ views on themselves and life; the Pearl and its relationship with animals (yea!) and kids (boo!); the PDX Zoo; rain (seemingly a NW exclusive invention); the Farmer’s Market; Laurie Joe’s parties (yikes!); and her family.

She seems quite candid about her family, too.  Leo, is her young son, the “career-killer,” she calls him.  And then, there’s Jeff, her husband, who spends part of the time in Alaska, salmon-fishing.  She talks about the three stages of separating as they both have sometimes separate agendas.  1.) They fight before they proceed in other directions; 2.) feeling freedom, as she can just be herself; 3.) and, after a short while, she misses him like crazy.  Go figure.

Her rapid-fire style of delivery is a cross between the Road Runner and Pee Wee Herman on speed.  And her style of writing/performing is somewhere around David Mamet and his unfinished sentences and interrupted speeches, and Virginia Woolf’s, with her stream-of-consciousness approach.  Often, she might not relate a complete thought but you always know what she means.  Now, that’s an Art.

Her observations are so intrinsic, instinctive and intriguing that you are drawn to her views on subjects.  Not because she is right or preaching but because she provokes thought.  And isn’t that a sound bases for learning?  In her little corner of the universe rests, perhaps, a microcosm of us all.  And maybe we should proclaim that land, The People’s Republic of…Lauren.

Ms. Riordan does an amazing job of breaking up the speeches just enough, with lighting effects, music and video clips, that it doesn’t overwhelm us completely.  The show can’t be summarized in the traditional sense, as it has to be seen to be fully appreciated.  It is not a belly-laugh type of comedy but more of a humorist’s approach to life, like Twain or Cosby or Will Rogers.  And may we all experience the white butterfly affect once in our lives.  What does it mean?  Sorry, no spoiler here, you’ll have to see the show.

I recommend this show.  If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.