Monday, June 13, 2016

Psycho Beach Party—Twilight Theater Company—N. Portland

Seductive Sixties

This dark comedy is written by Charles Busch and directed by Ravyn Jazper-Hawke.  It is playing at their space at 7515 N. Brandon Ave. (off Lombard) through June 25th.  For more information, go to their site at www.twilighttheatercompany.org or call 503-847-9838.

It is said that if you remember the 60’s, you weren’t there, referring, of course, to the amount of pills ingested, weed smoked, drugs injected and alcohol consumed, not to mention getting high on free love and rock music, thereby supposedly wiping out any memories of that era.  And Malibu Beach had its fair share of this forgotten generation.  Surfing and getting high were the big kicks there.  Any thought of becoming a responsible citizen and making a difference in the world was far-removed from these teens’ minds.

And this play’s title does reflect those times, as beach party movies were in vogue, as were the lesser known stories about “Three Faces of Eve” and “Sybil.”  In this case Chicklet (Rachel Jacques) does have her problems, as she is just at the point of being hatched into this mad world, only to discover that there is a deeper disturbance going on inside her as well.  Her mother (Bee Philip) would make “Mommie Dearest,” Joan Crawford, seem like Pollyanna.  And her best friend, Berdine (Amanda Anderson), is an intellectual whiz, striving to find her place in this disjointed world.

Of course, there must be a surfer dude, in this case Starcat (Sam Bennett), who has his roving eye on every chick on the beach.  Also, among her many friends, is the blonde Tab Hunter type, Yo-Yo (Ted Hartsook), not the sharpest knife in the drawer and his best buddy, Provoloney (Marty Winborne), the self-appointed organizer of the group.  Of course, we have to have the beach bunny, Marvel Ann (Eva Andrews), who will attack anyone in pants.  There is also the beach bum-philosopher, based on the Great Gonzo in real life, in this guise, Kanaka (Alastair Morley).  And, into their midst, appears the beautiful movie star, Bettina (Deone Jennings), escaping from her public, akin to a Marilyn Monroe type, who just wants to be appreciated for her acting talents and not just her looks.

Other beach-side attractions, adding to the populace, are Charles Michael Fox, Tabitha Ebert, Bobby Nove, Susan Westbo and Jeff Paulsen.  And such burning questions must be answered, such as will Chicklet’s split personalities wreck havoc on her friends…and why does she have these other selves anyway; will the Land Shark make a meal out of any of them; who will take whom to the Big Luau/Talent show; and will they all find True Happiness and Love, or will they separate and go in different directions?  You’ll just have to see it to find out the answers.

This show deals with all sorts of adult language and situations, so be warned.  But it seems to be a rather accurate reflection of a certain ilk during those hazy, lazy, crazy days of the 60’s.  Jazper-Hawke keeps the play moving at a brisk pace and the simple set changes are done quickly.  I especially liked the low-tech scene of the surfers.  And, for the most part, she has chosen her cast well.  They all have the right look and attitudes for that period, even though many of them were not born yet.

I especially appreciated Anderson, as the heady friend of the lead; Andrews as the forceful sex pot; Philip as the eccentric (to say the least) mother of Chicklet; Jennings as the misunderstood movie star, having both the looks and acting chops for the role; and Morley, as the kinetic, space-out “daddy” of the team.  The most difficult role in the play is Chicklet, with the many personalities.  Jacques has the right look for the role but differences in the “other” selves needed to be more pronounced.  As it is, there are only slight changes in her body and voice, and those elements need to be a lot more specific.

I recommend this show but, as mentioned, it is very adult.  Also, mostly neighborhood parking but there is a small parking lot in the church across the street.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.