Sunday, April 12, 2015

Really Really—Portland Actors Conservatory—SW Portland

He Said…She Said

This topical drama by Paul Downs Colaizzo is directed by Beth Harper (PAC’s Founder and Artistic Director).  It is playing at their space, 1436 SW Montgomery St., through April 27th.  For more information, go to their site at www.actorsconservatory.com or call 503-274-1717.

Truth…oftentimes an elusive thing.  It may be in the “Eye of the Beholder” (like Beauty), but it does depend on one’s perspective…and motives.  Rape, sexual abuse, harassment, et. al. are serious matters.  The purest view of this may be Kurosawa’s beautiful film, Rashomon, in which the story of a rape is told by four different people, the bride, her young groom, the bandit and a witness.  All of them having their own motives for telling the story the way they do.  There is also the fine, two-character stage play and film by Mamet called, Oleanna.

You have also may have noticed in the news the story of “Jackie” published by Rolling Stone, a young woman claiming to have been raped by four college students.  Turns out the story may have been less than true and the full facts may never be known.  The same can be said for this story, as it resembles, in some ways, all of the above.  And, as sometimes noted, no story is quite what it seems.  They are, at best, variations and/or manipulations of the Truth.

This tale concerns, Leigh (Shannon Mastel), a previously rather promiscuous college girl, now in the process of settling down with her beau, Jimmy (Murri Lazaroff-Babin).  Her roommate is Grace (Halie Becklyn), a rather religious, conservative woman and head of her Church’s Future Leaders of America, espousing women’s roles in leadership positions.  Leigh is a survivor (in more ways than one).  Grace may not be.

And, behind door # 2, are the college boys who have thrown a wild, drunken party, in which the ladies attended.  Cooper (Therman Sisco, Jr.) is less than serious about classes and treats the time as his own private smorgasbord of delicious, party delights.  Johnson (Nile Whent) is a studious sort but definitely will sway whichever way the wind blows, as it seems to be important to him to be part of the crowd.  Davis (Murren Kennedy) is a bit of a loner, an outsider and, although a serious student, is not at his best when confronted with the reality of Life.  Into this mix is also thrown Haley (Alexandria Casteele), Leigh’s sister, who lives an “alternate” life style and unconcerned with what Life throws at her, and is also a bit of a detective when prying for the Truth.

The events in question take place over a two-day period and involve a purported rape that happened at a drunken orgy.  Or did it?  Can’t really tell too much more of the plot, as much of it is up to the audience to discover, but suffice to say, the conclusion is never completely resolved and some of it is up to the viewer to cogitate on.  Atticus Fitch (To Kill A Mockingbird) says that in order to understand someone, you must get inside their skin and walk around in it a bit.  This may not get you to discover Truth, but you will see things from a different perspective.

The two sets (designer, Tim Stapleton) are very realistic and give us important insights into the characters’ behaviors, as do the costumes (designer, Jessica Bobillot).  And Harper digs deep into these people and we get very distinctive flavors of their attitudes and viewpoints.  The cast is lucky to be working with such an insightful director/teacher.

And the whole cast is to be commended on presenting such a difficult issue.  I’m sure there were many discussions on this story and related issues.  They work well as a team, as it should be, and give us a very fluid look at a microcosm of Youth in current society.

I recommend this play.  But, be warned it is, obviously, very adult in subject matter and language.  Also it is street parking in a neighborhood setting, so best get their early.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.