Saturday, March 17, 2018

She Is Fierce—Enso Theatre—SE Portland



“Time’s Up!”

     The production is adapted from plays by Annemarie de Bruijn and Maaike Bergstra and directed by Joellen Sweeney.  It is playing at the Shoebox Theatre, 2110 SE 10th Ave., through March 31st.  For more information, go to their site at www.ensotheatre.com

     This play is very timely, especially with the Woman’s Movement of today, demanding respect and equality, among other things, which is long overdue.  Gender, as well as religion, cultural, sexual orientation, et. al., should never have been an issue at all.  But what it does prove is that a white, male-dominated society doesn’t work.  Those sorts of individuals can be abusive, at worst, and pedestrian, at best.  “Times, they are a-changin’.”

     A woman’s place in society, of those by-gone ages, was precarious at best.  It seemed she had two roles in life—as an amusement for men and to birth children (preferably males), and to care for them, of course.  She was not allowed to inherit, own property, have a meaningful job or have any role in governing of nothing except the household.  What she was expected to do was get married as soon as possible, with a large dowry, and to covet the highest position she could achieve in a man (arranged marriages were popular at the time, too).  Love really had nothing to do with it.

And so, in this play, we are faced with the dilemma of Lady Anne (Sam Bangs) in the realm of Richard III (voice of Tim Fodge), who ends up at her husband’s funeral, being wooed by this misshapen excuse for a man, who had already killed her husband, and his father.  Of course, she’ll scratch his eyes out.  Wrong.  Keep in mind, she is a woman without any rights or future now.  Add to the fact that she feels the best revenge might be to get him to love her, then break his heart.  But that is assuming, of course, that Richard, that silver-tongued devil, is sincere in his platitudes toward her.  “And, therein, lies the rub.”

     Margaret (Sam Reiter), mother-in-law of Edward, Anne’s first husband, knows the conflict all too well.  After all, Richard killed Edward and then his own brothers and two male children, cousins, to secure his right to the throne, confounding even his own Mum, the Duchess of York (Paige Rogers), so what’s a mother to do but love him.  I’m reminded of another mother in literature that faced a similar problem.  Her name was Rosemary and when she was confronted with the fact that she had been raped by the devil to sire his offspring, she chose to embrace that position of motherhood.  Those instincts run deep in spite of everything.

     Even her younger self (Hannah Hogan) is aware of these restrictions, even when she marries her first husband, Edward, the King, that she needs to hang on to her position or be doomed.  And waiting in the wings is another of Richard’s fancies, his cousin, the Duchess (Paige Rogers).  This does not mean she doesn’t have a voice, it just means it must be muted, for now, but the time has arrived when this saga can be exposed as a warning to future generations now!

     The story is played out on sand and it is my observation that it could represent the sands of times as they cross the ages, or the sands of a primeval beach, as Mankind supposedly evolved from the ocean.  Anyway, interesting addition to the production.  Also, this is very movement/dance oriented, an organic experience, and uses a scrim to project various scenes from the tale, and there is some pre-show, lobby material to enhance one’s immersion in it.

     Sweeney has garnered a powerful cast that, indeed, is “Fierce” in their presentation!  It is timely, as mentioned, and definitely worth seeing.  I recommend this production.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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