Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Drunken City—Theatre Vertigo—SE Portland

The Hungry Dragon

This dark comedy is written by Adam Bock and directed by KL Cullom.  It is playing at the Shoebox space, 2110 SE 10th Ave., through November 21st.  For more information, go to their site at www.theatrevertigo.org

The lull before the storm leads to the storm before the lull, which, in turn again, leads to another lull before…well, I think you get the idea.  Life is basically a roller-coaster, with ups and downs, ins and outs…and the trick is to keep your balance.  It is one thing to do this on a small scale, in your comfort zone, among your friends.  But it is quite another trip to be confronted by the Big City, the Sleeping Dragon, hungry for new blood, just waiting to devour you.

This, in part, seems to be at the heart of Bock’s play.  Two friends, Eddie (R. David Wyllie) and Frank (Murri Lazaroff-Babin), from a small town decide to tackle the Big City and paint the town red.  When we meet them, they are at least three sheets to the wind, with the last sail barely clinging to land.  And, like most guys in this state, girls are on their mind.  They both have had break-ups in their recent past so are looking for “The Dragon” to supply fresh blood.

Also enter three brides-to-be in the guises of Melissa (Nicole Accuardi), the leader of the pack, the next one to be married, the flighty, Marnie (Holly Wigmore), and the novice, Linda (Shawna Nordman).  They all have (or had) guys but this is ladies night out…and “The Dragon” is hungry.  Their sheets, too, have set sail hours before and they are just looking for a good time.  It’s inevitable that these two groupings should meet.  What is not so predictable is that two of them, Frank and Marnie, should connect in a very personal way and take off together…the others in hot pursuit.

And so the Calvary is called in, in the guise of their gay friend, Bob (Tom Mounsey), who is the Peacemaker and always seems to have the answers.  But to know the answers, you must know the questions, the real questions, that are being asked.  Is this simply a tale of a bunch of drunken young people blowing off steam and letting their hair down?  Or is there something more basic, unspoken, a deep reality within each person that knows what is best for them, even if they choose not to follow it?  For the answers…and the questions…and how it all turns out…you’ll have to see the show.

I remember when I was in my teens my parents were bugging me to settle down…find a nice girl…give us grandkids.  Love is never mentioned in these demands, nor were the questions of who am I really, and who do I see for myself in the future, and does it really involve marriage and kids.  And when you finally consent to join the populace and get married, then there is all the pageantry of preparing for the ceremony and people don’t regard you as an individual anymore but as a product of a societal ritual.  You will just become another statistic…

Bock’s viewpoint seems to embrace some of these thoughts.  It is not that marriage is bad but that finding out who we are as individuals is more important and, then, if marriage is the fit for you, go for it with both feet planted firmly in the ground.  But, if not, however painful it may be, change things!  Be the best you can be with what you’ve been given.  And know that your instincts, intuition, and, for Artists, a Muse, will usually lead you to where you need to go.  Just let go and trust it.  “And the beat goes on…!”

The actors are all amazing, as they take us on this all-too-familiar, roller-coaster journey.  And Cullom is the assured conductor of this whiplash trek of these merry folk.  Kudos, too, for the graphics/graffiti on the wall, depicting elements on the story and characters, created by Mindy Baker, a marvelous artist.  She and her Art are absolutely astounding!

I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.