Sunday, April 17, 2016

Chrysalis—OCT’s Young Professionals Company—NE Portland

The Dawning…

This World Premiere production is at Oregon Children’s Theatre’s Y/P Studio Theatre, 1939 NE Sandy Blvd., and is written and directed by Matthew B. Zrebski.  It is playing at their space through April 24th.  For more information, go to their site at www.octc.org or call 503-228-9571.

Once Upon a Time…there was a caterpillar, who some would say was mad…no, not the one from the Alice… stories (although he might have felt quite at home in this world) but a special one who seemed to have God-like powers.  His (Her?) job, so it seems, was to spin its silk from which a new world would emerge.  An end-world, possibly, a last generation, as it were, to fix all the muddled, madcap messes and mistakes that humankind has been making since the Dawn of Time.

But this new era would not be an easy one to create…it would be painful, in fact, as the old world and the old selves would die, as well as the caterpillar from which it sprang.  But it was a last ditch effort to save what was once a Beautiful Idea.  The mistake was, perhaps, giving these bipeds free will and reasoning powers and attempting not to interfere.  But this time, there would be an…interference…in which The Braids (Morgan Demetre, Conner Muhl, Emma Stewart and Martin Tebo) would get directly involved with the…transformation…and so our story begins….

Nigel (Isaac Sten), a high school student, is the blog guru of his school, proud of the fact that he prints only gossip, lies for the hungry masses.  And proud of the fact that he can “fix” things as needed if some rumors get out of hand.  But, when he stumbles accidently on a “truth,” given to him by his best friend, Dylan (Max Bernsohn), a God-fearing boy, about a girl that he’s sweet on, Jace (Tirza Meuljic), who is in the midst of an identity crisis, then that opens up a whole can of worms and all hell breaks loose (possibly, quite literally).

Jace also has an older sister, Holly (Charlotte Karlsen), who is planning on going away to college.  But, as this tin of squiggly beasties begins to erupt, she is catapulted into the vacuum, too, as she know secrets from their past.  And, with the Braids around, nothing goes unnoticed, or unresolved.  As they are nudged into a Rebirth, wounds need to be exposed so that the healing can start.  Issues of God, politics, forgiveness, power, identity, responsibility, abuse, et. al. must be addressed.  What emerges is…but that would be telling, wouldn’t it?  See it to glimpse this…brave, new world.

If you are expecting a traditional, linear story with an elaborate set, this is not that.  This is not so much a place, but a state of mind.  It has only one foot in reality.  The other foot is rooted firmly in that netherworld of dreams, a surrealistic state of mind, a labyrinth of expectations and disappointments…and possibilities.  It is a world seen by today’s Youth and should not be ignored!

Zrebski and his cast, has, I’m sure, traveled down some emotional and probably painful roads to hone out this missive.  It is to his credit that he has not only listened but heeded their story.  And they have done it in a safe environment, in the womb of the Y/P Company of OCT, in my opinion, the finest youth company in the NW.  And, it is to Dani Baldwin’s credit, as Education Director and guiding force of this group, that such a program exists and thrives.  Hurray to all of the above and to the very talented cast who, I’m sure, has been transformed in more ways than one, with this experience.  My companion to this and many shows, Deanna, would agree, to never underestimate or patronize our Youth for they are, quite seriously, the Hope of the Future.

And so, to end the story, “…and they lived…hopefully…ever after!”  I recommend this play, especially to the Youth out there, as I’m sure they will see they are not alone in the angst they feel.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.