Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Reunion—Imago Theatre—SE Portland

Letting Go

This avant-garde, dark comedy is written and directed by Carol Triffle (co-founder of Imago w/Jerry Mouawad, “John” in this production).  It is playing at their space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (just off Burnside, parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly), through June 24th.  For more information, go to their site at www.imagotheatre.com or call 503-231-9581.

In the time of your Life, when were you the happiest?  Often folks will reflect on their childhood and youth.  And when you know it is time to “shuffle off this mortal coil,” what actions would you take to re-capture that period, perhaps that age of innocence, when you had all the time in the world (or so you thought) and were fearless and indestructible and free?  For me, those precious days were always associated with dogs, my eternal buddies.  But, on the other hand, reminiscence on the “good ole days,” can bring regrets of things that we should have done during those intervening years, and didn’t.  Hold every moment dear, and they will do the same for you.  But, do we?!

In Dolores’s (Danielle Vermette) case, this alluring time seems to be a “Reunion.”  And high school is a magical time for many, when the future lay at your feet, open to all possibilities.  In her case, she comes with her husband, John (Jerry Mouawad), who doesn’t seem at all happy with this intrusion to their lives.  Of course, the fact that she has a terminal illness isn’t such a hot idea, either.  The hall for this event is decorated with the appropriate razzle-dazzle but it seems that they are unfashionable too early (or too late), as only the band is left and what a motley crew they are.

Duke (Kyle Delamarter) seems to be the leader of the pack and he, with his fellow band-mate, Floyd (Sean Bowie), neither being any great shakes as singers, seem to have another agenda, like flirting with Delores, whom they have shaky, if any, memories of, and vice versa.  Tek (Jon Farley), the mostly silent drummer, seems to be in a world of his own.  The arrival of the hostess, the only other guest, Brittany (Megan Skye Hale), doesn’t seem to clear things up at all, as she keeps calling Delores by another name.  Granted, memories get fuzzy at reunions, thus nametags and old photos for recollections, but this gathering seems even more remote, until you discover the secret…

Obviously, I can go any further without being a spoiler, but I will say this really is a love story, of sorts, albeit out in left field, perhaps.  And maybe one should not take things too literally, as in many Imago shows.  There are layers upon layers, and stories within stories, and like a fine painting or piece of music, or play, what the observer contemplates of the proceedings is part of the purpose of the piece in the first place.  Not to say that this, or any artistic work, doesn’t have a meaning to the creator, but part of that magic is what the audience gleans from it, as it is meant to be an inclusive work of art.

For instance, does this event take place in a traditional setting and time, or is it set somewhere in the “windmills of [one’s] mind?”  Is the world only what we can touch and feel, or does imagination and wonderment play a part in our existence?  Are we a person dreaming we are a “butterfly,” or a “butterfly” dreaming we are a person?  What you take home from this story is just as valid as what the person next to you takes home, although it can be vastly different understandings.  “We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

This eclectic work by Triffle, both as writer and director, is something you will talk about afterwards…and disagree on…and that is as intended, I believe.  I liked it very much.  It is good to see Mouawad on stage, as he normally directs many of the works here.  He is just as vibrant and mesmerizing onstage as I imagine he is behind the scenes.  Vermette, the focus of the story, invites us along with her on this unusual journey, as we experience the twists and turns and doubts, as she does, so we are co-explorers with her.  Very good job.  The rest of the cast adds to the bizarre nature of the story by always keeping us guessing as to the reality/sanity of them, which is as it should be.

I recommend this show, but know that it is not the “traditional” theatre you might be accustomed to seeing.  If you do choose to esperience it, please tell them that Dennis sent you.