Sunday, April 14, 2019

How To Keep An Alien—Corrib Theatre—SE Portland



               Love Without A Visa


    This clever piece, about love and bureaucracy, is written by Sonya Kelly and directed by Gemma Whelan.  It is playing at the New Expressive Works space, 810 SE Belmont St., through May 5th.  For more information, go to their site at www.corribtheatre.org or call 503-389-0579.

    It is said that Love is the most potent element in the universe.  But, like all Positive forces, it needs an antithesis, otherwise we would not recognize the importance of the Positive.  I would vote for Bureaucracy as a good candidate for that position, as that force sucks all the emotional and humanity out of anything Good (look at the mess on our Southern border, as an example).  This personal journey from the author “must give us pause,” as it will restore your faith in the warmth and dignity the human spirit can have, when faced with seemingly impossible odds.  Heaven is all the sweeter, if one has to have trod through Hell to get there!

    This is a very cleverly constructed sojourn, as it is presented, “on the fly,” so to speak.  The Irish author, Sonya, in the guise of the very accomplished actor, Sara Hennessy, will take us on her personal journey to find love.  But this trip is without adornments, as she speaks directly to the audience and only uses a bulletin board and minimal props to chart her progress. 

    She is also more than ably assisted by the Stage Manager (Amy Katrina Bryan), who appears onstage with her, playing other characters and providing crucial props when necessary.  Quite frankly, I was pleased with this approach to this story-telling style, as I have always been impressed with a “black box” theatrical setting.

    As for the tale, Sonya is an actor and is in a terrible play/dance production at an Irish castle, where she meets Kate, another actor in the company.  But Kate, being an Aussie, must return home once her Visa runs out.  Needless to say, they fall hopelessly in love and the remaining story is all the trials and tribulations of staying together on a permanent basis.  Such efforts, including sending a letter, via a paper sandwich sack, through the mail; getting stuck with a grumpy, by-the-book immigration officer; trying to reconcile with in-laws, who may not be as pleased with this union as the pair are; et. al.

    I certainly am not going to reveal the outcome, but I think the story will touch anyone who has been in love…puppy or otherwise.  But, as mention, the style was as compelling as the story for me.  Whelan always gives a fresh approach to story-telling, as with this tale, and constantly invites the audience, through their imagination, to participate in creating, filling out, this world.

    Hennessy is a pro and it shows.  As she flits about the stage, changing from one, seemingly random, thought to another, she builds beautifully toward the fairy tale ending.  Also, I was equally impressed with Bryan, in her many incarnations.  I have often been a believer that, “there are no small parts, only small actors,” and this, once again, proves the point.  Bryan is fully vested in providing the support for Hennessy, concentrating on the tasks at hand, even when having no dialogue.  I especially liked her droll immigration officer, and the song that provided a short interlude in the proceedings.  She is a gem and I hope to see more of her onstage.

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

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