Tuesday, May 31, 2016

…On a Cloud—Imago theatre—SE Portland

Sad Stories of Raging Queens

Francesca, Isabella, Margarita on a Cloud was created by Carol Triffle, with original music and songs by Katie Griesar and lighting design by Jeff Forbes.  It is playing at their space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (just off Burnside), through June 19th.  For more information, go to their site at www.imagotheatre.com or call 503-231-9581.

Imago shows are not so much plays to be observed but experiences to be felt….and then filtered through one’s own being to discover truths.  Triffle and Jerry Mouawad might agree with Samuel Beckett’s statement, when asked about who Godot was in his play, he replied, “Who is he to you?”  That might apply here when searching for the meaning of the story.  They might reply, “What does it mean to you?”  Thereby allowing the audience to become an active part of the Search for Truth which, in actuality, is what all Artists seek.

On the surface, the story is about three sisters, the brainy Francesca (Megan Skye Hale), the sexy Isabella (Elizabeth Fagan) and the pretty Margarita (Anne Source), former Beauty Queens in their early years, now coming to grips with the barren reality of real life.  Margarita has her fond memories of winning many titles over her youthful years until she reveals the horror of what she and her mother had to do to win those crowns.  But she has her beau, TY’s, Bob, the Weatherman (Sean Bowie), more showman than meteorologist.

Isabella’s boat may have finally come in, as she had been cast in an Indie film, only to discover a leak as, once again, it’s her body, not her acting ability that the producers are interested in.  But she has her faithful puppy, her friend, RayRay (Kyle Delamarter) to find solace with.  And Francesca, the brains of the trio and owner of the house, seems accepting in the fact that neither Queendom nor Love is in the cards for her.  These three seems an odd trio, putting their faith in a fantasy, until you realize that we all probably do that to some extent…looking for the grass that is “greener on the other side…”or the dream that is just out of reach….

The show is dance/movement oriented with the actors in almost constant movement…a kinetic energy that seems to bounce them off the wall, as if looking for a solid base to latch onto, to hold them down, to give them a base from which they can evolve.  They seem to be either fleeing from something they don’t wish to face, or frantically seeking something of value to give them a purpose, or both.  The only times they seem to relax, to be still, is when they recall their childhood days, when they lay on the ground looking up at the sky and being absorbed by the gentle clouds that would take them anywhere their hearts desired.

My own similar experience of those early days of my life were when, on my grandparents land, I would climb the sloping hill in back of their house and lay on the ground overlooking a valley.  I would always watch as the train whisked by, carrying its passengers to exotic locations (or so a child’s mind would imagine) and I would, in turn, be each of them, giving them (me) histories as to who they were and what they would accomplish.  Thomas Wolfe has said, “You can’t go home again,” but I would disagree.  As long as you can embrace a cloud…or hook yourself onto a train…you are Home again!

The music (Griesar) and lighting (Forbes) match perfectly the reckless and ever-changing mood and energy swings the play takes.  Both are an intricate part of the show and I couldn’t imagine this production without those elements.  Triffle has done an amazing job of giving us another think-piece from Imago.  And her actors are all first-rate at giving her vision substance.  They must be dancers, singers and actors and all five of them do this and give us both a spicy stew to simmer in and a fluffy blanket to encompass us.

I can’t help but reflect on a couple more things, as I feel they relate to the play:  The unfortunate murder of a young beauty queen, Jon Benet Ramsey, and how she was thrust into a world of glitter and glamour far beyond her years with tragic results.  Also, I would implore parents/teachers, to encourage imagination in the young, whether it’s in bedtime stories and/or getting involved in an Art form.  They are so important in the growth of character in young person.

I recommend this show but, be aware, it is a unique way of telling a story, so be prepared to think and talk about it afterwards.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.