Sunday, August 12, 2018

Title and Deed—Imago Theatre—SE Portland


“Stranger in a Strange Land”


    This avant-garde experience is a one-man show performed by the always amazing, Todd Van Voris and directed by the also, amazing Jerry Mouawad.  It is written by Will Eno and playing at Imago’s space, 17 SE 8th Ave (Off Burnside) through August 25th.  For more information, call them at 503-231-9581.
     What would it feel like to an alien from another world and, somehow, wind up on our shores?  (Nowadays, if he was smart, he turn tail and head back from whence he came!)  In this case, a being ends up trying to adapt/assimilate/study our way of life because it is evidently similar to his.  An alternate universe, perhaps? 

     
He is obviously lost, in more ways than one.  He is lured into an almost empty space, having only a “Ghost” light as a beacon into this chilly atmosphere.  His world seems sadder and he reflects this.  His world also seems less compassionate than ours (but I think we are slowly catching up with that concept).  He explains his world as an endless parade, only pausing long enough to let the ambulances through.  That says a lot.  It seems when they are birthed, at the first primal scream (of pain or joy?), they are already on the road to death.  A terrible awareness to be born with.

     It seems to be a matter-of-fact existence, a way of coping, perhaps, until they gaze into the Void, the Blackness and see…nothing.  “The rest is silence,” but no peace seems to ensue. They appear to go through the motions, gesturing and gyrating, wandering and wading, rising and failing, knowing “right from left,” as they were taught, but with no firm understanding of motivations, of aspirations, of what-ifs…only aware of sounds, discordant noises, how words are formed with no sense of their meanings.  An existence whose purpose…has no purpose.

     And what does such a being bring with him to this new word?  A satchel with a stick and a lunch box, empty (but has room to put something into it if one desires). My take on it…the old Jonathon Winters routine, where he’s challenged to find a use in a stick.  His solution?  It can be anything you want…a spyglass, a sword, a future tree, etc.  And the empty box?  Hitchcock explains that such devices were “MacGuffins,” they, unto themselves, were of no importance, they were only devices to move the plot along, as it could contain anything you wanted.  And so, is our alien friend onto creating his own worlds, if only he had the imagination?  Will he (we) ever know the purpose of his arrival?  Maybe at one time, he (we) did know the purpose, the end result, the connection of such a union but it seems to have all dissipated “…into thin air, leaving not a wisp behind!”  Are we the better for knowing him (or he, us)?  Or, does it even matter…?  A tale of hopelessness, maybe.

     As always, Mouawad and Van Voris are an unmovable force, an unstoppable team, a creative mountain plastered with seemingly disconnected thoughts, discarded ideas…fodder for the little used imaginations of the “unwashed masses.”  Van Voris is a delightful explorer, who has shared many a journey with us over the years and still amazes and satisfies.  He is royalty in the kingdom of Creative Arts!

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

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