Saturday, February 16, 2019

Pontypool—CoHo Productions—NW Portland


       Night of the Dead…Living

    This horrorific tale is written by Tony Burgess and directed by Gavin Hoffman.  Based on a novel and rather good Indie film, it is playing at their space, 2257 NW Raleigh St. (parking is a major challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly), through March 2nd.  For more information, go to their site at www.cohoproductions.org or call 503-220-2646.

    There is purportedly, a small rural town in NW Oregon that has an infestation, of sorts, in which people are found blathering nonsense and, like lemmings, seeming to follow each other to a type of self-destruction (no, not Congress).  At least, that’s what the local radio station (KPPL, 660 on your listening dial) is posing.  Nestled in the basement of a church, they do have a rather unorthodox shock jock, Grant Mazzy (rhymes with crazy).  The station is virtually the only real entertainment these farming folks have in this quiet (usually) little village.

    But now Grant (Todd Van Voris) has gone too far, as his type of reporting has ranged from searching for a lost cat to insisting there are hordes of people out there rioting and actually (can you believe this) eating each other!  His no-nonsense producer, Sydney (Christy Bigelow), insists his imagination and thirst for recognition is getting the best of him.  Even a co-work, the much-respected, war-veteran, Laurel Ann (Paige McKinney), can’t seem to rein him in.

    But, at least, they can always switch to the ever-reliable, weather-copter reporter, Ken (Pat Moran) to fill us in on the amazing cold snap we seem to be having.  Although lately, he also seems to be losing it, as he has just recently begun to report unusual numbers of individuals ravaging the countryside.  I think this cold must have infected his brain, as he seems now to be a few flakes short of a snowball.  It is only when Grant has the town’s very respected medical expert, Dr. Mendez (Jimmy Garcia), on the air live, as a guest, that people began to sit up and take notice.

    As best as I can make out, the town-folk are infected by some type of virus and, evidently (now get this), it is passed on by sound, certain words or, maybe, language, that triggers this bug.  So, if your loved ones start slurring their words…talking nonsense, repeating themselves…repeating themselves…and fixating on a certain word over and over again, then head for the open range, buckaroo, for your in for a bumbling tide.  The Invasion has begun, so weaze needs to building a wall to keep out this pirate…er, virus.  It be spewing…spreading, so witch out, u could be text!  Silence is Gordon, reminder….be daft and bilge that wall…wall…wall…wall…wall…wall……..AHHHHHH…….!

    This report was found at the front desk at CoHo.  He added a note to it that remarked that Van Voris, a master at any role, was a marvel as the shock jock.  The rest of the cast was also quite convincing and Hoffman, not only a fine actor himself, has managed to keep this production at a heightened suspenseful level.  And kudos, too, to the lighting designer, Jennifer Lin, who was kept very busy, and to the Violence Designer, the award-winning, Kirsten Mun.

    This may not be for everybody but I recommend it.  Please tell them Dennis sent you, if you do choose to see it.
--DJS

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