Sunday, March 18, 2018

The White Hound of the North—The Steep and Thorny Way to Heaven—SE Portland

A Land Beyond…Beyond


     This imaginative tale of folklore is devised and directed by Megan Skye Hale with music supervision and lighting design by Myrrh Larsen.  It is playing at their space at SE 2nd and Hawthorne through March 24th.  For more information, go to their site at www.thesteepandthornywaytoheaven.com

     This is a fairy tale for adults or, better yet, the child still inside the adult.  It draws it’s magic and charm from legends passed down for generations, of a world that once was…or is yet to be.  It, like all fairy tales, is immersed in lessons for behavior, coated liberally with the magic and music of the spheres.  And does such a place really exist?  John Ford famously said that when Facts and Legend conflict, believe the Legend, as it’s so much more interesting.  I pity those who can only see with their eyes.  A writer once said to a student, who was struggling with creating a story, to dip his pen into his heart and write with blood, as that is where imagination lies.

     This story has a fluidity, an organic feel, that floats in and out of your consciousness, like the final wisps of a dream, just before you awaken.  It is told with no dialogue, leaving the innards of the tale for you to muse on.  Dance-like movements flutter all about you, as if wild birds were seeking your attention and then whoosh, they are gone again.  It is a story of transformation, of a place beyond…beyond and yet, as close as your reach.

     The story, as such, seems to be of a fairyland where anything is possible.  But, as it often happens, our heroine, the Princess (Peyton McCandless), feels there is something more out there, a longing for…what.  She encounters a White Hound (Zed Jones), seemingly out of place in her known world.  They connect but his homeland is in another realm and so he must leave.  Will she follow?

     Some chance meetings, and kindness from her toward the Crow Witch (Wynee Hu), and she is rewarded with three gifts that she will take on her journey.  She is given a comb, a pair of scissors, and a horn and, although not informed on how they will help her, she senses she will know when the time comes.  His world is strange to her but her love for him drives her forward.  His mother, the Queen (Elizabeth Neal), keeps them at bay until the Princess realizes how to use her gifts.  More I cannot tell you without divulging secrets.


     The rest of the cast playing various creatures, are Kirsten Webb, Emily Hyde and Rega Lupo.  And the music, which I loved, musical curation by Myrrh Larsen, reminded me very much of Irish and American folk music and was an intricate part of the story.  The actors, all very concentrated in their portrayals, added to the believability of the tale.  Hale has another success on her hands, as she delicately leads us into another world and, with gentle persuasion, we are transported for an hour or so away from the turmoil of imposing reality and gentled into a semi-slumber to recharge our batteries.
    

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

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