Monday, April 29, 2019

Jason and the Argonauts—Oregon Children’s Theatre—Downtown Portland


             Myth-terious Band of Brothers

    This very inventive production is written by Robert Forrest and directed by Marcella Crowson and Douglas Irving (collaboration with Visible Fictions in Scotland, UK).  It is playing at the Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, through May 19th.  For more information, go to their site at www.octc.org

    I must admit, the joy of this production, is not so much in the story, but in the story-tellers and their style of presentation.  They perform it like a seasoned comedy team, aka, Abbott & Costello.  In this case, it is Josh (Heath Koerschgen), as the straight man, and James Sharinghousen) as the clown of this dynamic duo.  And are they amazing!

    The story follows generally the old Greek myth of Jason wanting to avenge his father, who was killed by his brother.  But, in order to achieve this, he must go to the ends of the earth and find the Golden Fleece, which will restored peace to his land, so that he can claim his father’s throne.  But first, he must secure a crew of the most talented people in the land.

    He encounters all sorts of obstacles including the brass birds, hungry harpies, clashing rocks, a vicious sea monster and a fire-breathing dragon.  But they have their protectors, too, in the form of a blind soothsayer, the prophetess, Medea and Hera, the Queen of the gods.  To see how Jason fares with his crew, you just have to see it.  But the crowd of youngsters that I saw it with me, ate it up!

    These two fellow play over a dozen different characters and with the help of some courageous action figures (including a momentary appearance by a Star Wars individual and Spiderman), they make this 75 minute play, come alive with all sorts of magic.  Also, their all-purpose cart, which supplied much of the scenery and props, including their faithful ship, Argo (Robin Peoples & Emily Wilken) deserved equal credit for their success.  All in all, a magical feat!

    The directors have done a super job of casting the shows and the movements, so that it all makes sense.  The two actors, both season veterans of the stage, are simply without equal in this atmosphere.  I really appreciated the fact that the directors and cast chose to play the characters as if they, too were inventing a children’s game, complete with little spats and “improvised” interludes.  This way, it would make the youth of the audience relate more to their us of imagination and hands-on playtimes (which is in shorty order now with the gods of the electronics media).

    One minor note, at times the music overpowered the dialogue.
I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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