Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Beyond Therapy—Twilight Theatre Company—N. Portland

…Watch Over Me”

This dark comedy by Christopher Durang is playing at Twilight’s space at 7508 N. Hereford Ave. (off Lombard) in North Portland.  It is directed by J.J. Harris (Twilight’s Artistic Director) and runs through August 10th.  Check out their site at www.TwilightTheaterCompany.org or call 503-847-9838.

“Someone To Watch Over Me” could well be described as the theme song for this show, as it has a dual meaning.  Not only is it a character’s personal favorite song but it is also, in a way, part of a motto, perhaps, of therapists’ duties in watching over people’s psyches.  Of course, in the absurdist’s world of Durang, anything is possible and everything probable or problematic.

Most of the play takes place in a restaurant or a therapist’s office, so it is very contained in action and movement, which is fine, because Durang is a terrific wordsmith.  Prudence (Paige McKinney), an uptight businesswoman and Bruce (Tom Witherspoon), a sensitive bi-sexual man, meet on a blind date.  It seems, at the outset that they have little in common, except the above mentioned song.

He cries at the drop of a hat and seems over-willing to please.  And she is distrustful of relationships in general and seems to lack passion.  On a couple of occasions the play Equis is mentioned, in which a therapist envies a young boy who lives with passion, a trait he does not share, forced to conform to society’s rules.  An easy comparison could be made to the characters in this play.

They, also, both go to a therapist.  He to Charlotte (Rutheanne Kendrick), an eccentric, who has a small stuffed dog (Snoopy) for a confidant, is forgetful and has a bad case of malapropism (from a character in Sheridan’s, The Rivals) in which she misuses words to comedic ends.  She goes to Stuart (Breon McMullin), a former boyfriend, whose main purpose, it seems, in having sessions with her, is to rekindle their relationship.

But Bruce is also a bit remiss in explaining fully his relationship with Bob (David Hudkins), his live-in lover, who has a mother-fixation and a jealous streak, understandably, when Bruce brings Prudence home for dinner.  It all comes to a head when all the parties meet at a restaurant and their waiter, Andrew (Adrian Woods), gets in on the act, as he gives Bob the eye.

Can’t tell you anymore without ruining the story, but the real gems are in the dialogues between the characters and their deliveries.  Harris has done a great job of casting people that are adept at this and timing, and it shows in their performances.  He also uses the minimal space well by concentrating on the dialogue and relationships to hold your interest, rather than excessive movement.

Witherspoon does well playing a conflicted man, longing for a relationship and genuinely loving both Bob and Prudence.  And Hudkins, as one of his loves, is great at, not only his delivery of lines, but especially in his reactions and expressions, letting us in on his feelings in given situations, which is part of the essence of acting itself.  Also, important to note, that these characters are not played stereotypically as Gays.  They are played as human beings and that’s the way it should be!  Bravo!

McKinney is wonderful as the lead female.  She is very natural as an actor and so her character becomes very believable.  And Kendrick as the misspoken, misunderstood and malapropos therapist is funny as hell.  You look forward to seeing her reappear onstage just to see how she’ll mess-up our language again.  They are both joys to watch.

Some warnings, though, as this small space does not have any air-conditioning and can get a bit stuffy inside, so come prepared in your dress.  They do sell refreshments, which helps.  Also a gun is fired at different times in the play so be warned.  And, most of all, it is R rated because of language and adult situations, so consider that if you choose to see this show.  It would be wise if the program and/or an announcement is made regarding these last two issues.

It only plays through this coming weekend, so best get your tickets now, as there is limited seating.  I recommend this play.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.