Friday, December 2, 2016

Buyer & Cellar—Triangle Productions!—NE Portland

Underworld of a Star

This one-man comedy, starring James Sharinghousen, is written by Jonathan Tolins and directed by Donald Horn (Triangle’s Artistic Director).  It is playing at their space at 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (parking lot to the West of the bldg.) through December 17th.  For more information, go to their site at www.trianglepro.org or call 503-239-5919.

We all have dreams—the biggest to the smallest—and we all have fantasies, too.  Perhaps it’s the collective tissue, our psyche DNA, that unites us all.  And in that vast wonderland of “could bes…” or “what ifs…” we find a Truth of sorts, that will get us through the night.  In the case of a mega-star like Barbra Streisand, it is a mini-mall under her Malibu home (true).  In the case of Alex Moore (Sharinghousen), a struggling actor, it is working there as a salesperson (fanciful truth).  It may be that “the truth will set us free” but it is the dreams, the fantasies, that sustain that “Truth.”

In Alex’s case, he is simply looking on how to finance his next meal.  But, like all of us, I believe, he is also looking for sustenance to feed his soul, as well.  His dutiful lover, Barry, an out-of-work screenwriter, tends to his corporeal needs but for an artist, something more, something intangible, is needed, too.  He craves a space to let his imagination flourish.  His agent, Vincent, comes to the rescue and supplies him with a mysterious sales job at a Malibu estate.  His creative juices are about to be tested.

He meets the martinet housekeeper of the mansion, Sharon, and he’s brusquely shown to his new working quarters, an entire mini-mall equipped with a clothing department, antiques, dolls and toys, a gift store, a sweet shop, costumes and props, et. al.  He is to keep an inventory of the places, dust, wear a “costume” (straight out of Americana) and, most importantly, deal with the sole customer who will occasionally visit.  The customer is Sadie, sometimes known as Barbra, and then the juices flow.

Alex was a character at Disneyland, so knows how to role-play, and also was heavy into Improv, which is part of many actors background/training.  And so his imagination is set free and together they explore the boundaries and content of this fantasy world.  It begins with a ruse about the history of a French, bubble-blowing doll, through airing childhood memories, to becoming a coach for a proposed revival of a musical for the icon.  But when the fantasy world and the real world collide, choices must be made…but more I cannot tell you without being a spoiler.

It is not a coincident, I surmise, that Alex claims to be a distant relative of Sir Thomas Moore (author of Utopia), for this story, in part, is about creating that Eden-like world for ourselves.  For an entrepreneur it may be farmland on an idyllic, Greek isle, where life is lived simpler and at a slower pace.  For a writer it may be seeing his work published and/or presented on stage and screen.  For a religious icon it may be a world where bridges between cultures are built and not walls, et. al. (any resemblance to actual people is purely…intentional).  What is your Dream?

Horn, as always, has successfully transported a world of wonder and magic into the everyday lives of a viewer, which is not only entertaining but enlightening as well.  Tolins and Horn and Sharinghousen have planted a seed within us that the world of the mind is limitless and the only one stifling that is…us.  “The fault….is not in our stars but in ourselves.”  Too true.  And Sharinghousen, always…always…is magic incarnate when he appears onstage.  I couldn’t imagine anyone better to share this journey of discovery.  He is a treasure.  And he wisely (via the author’s suggestions) doesn’t try to imitate characters but, like a good storyteller, simply gives the flavor, the essence, of the characters he embodies.  You never lose track of who’s who or the settings (also thanks to some very simple but creative lighting by Jeff Woods).

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