Saturday, April 27, 2019

Jesus Hopped the A Train—CoHo Productions—NW Portland












                                                             Shades of Gray

    This, in-your-face drama, is written by Stephen Adly Guirgis and is directed by Jamie M. Rea.  It is playing at their space, 2257 NW Raleigh St. (finding parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly), through May 11th.  For more information, go to their site at www.cohoproductions.org

    As a child, we pretty much see things as a black and white world, viewed from our own private perspective.  As we grow older, Nature and Nurture kick in to our development and we discover there are other points of view.  And so now we see that the world is made up of shades of gray, varying degrees/levels of possibilities and choices and, at some point, we feel we must choose a side.

    This whole play is a series of very in-depth discussions of Morality, Justice, Good vs. Evil, God, and the very nature of our existence.  It’s possible, during our exploration of the outside world, that we may revert back to our childhood notions of our black & white, private perceptions.  Change may not be an option.

    In this story, we are caged in a prison (of our own making?).  There is the God-fearing, serial-killer, Lucius (Bobby Bermea), who has seen the Devil and he is one of us.  The other prisoner, Angel (Anthony Lam), has by his own account, committed a justified killing of a bad man.  His Public Defender, Mary Jane (Dana Millican), sees something in him that resonates with her own past, so feels justified in bending the law a bit to get her client off.

    And then, of course, there’s the Law.  The good-hearted guard, D’Amico
(Duffy Epstein), who attempts to treat prisoners as human beings.  And then, there is his counter-part, Valdez (Wasim No’Mani), a sadistic prison guard who is just pure Evil.  And the silent Guard (Sam Gensler), who bides his time.  In truth, they are all trapped/caged, but highly charged, and erupt, like a volcano, as the story progresses, as they spew their own versions of the world-at-large.    Their discussions are fascinating to listen to, and absorb, but they need to be seen and heard by an audience and, so I will leave it up to you to do so.

    Rea certainly spares no punches in the intensity of this searing drama and the actors take no prisoners, either.  Rea is a fine actor in her own right and is, I’m sure, an “actor’s director.”  The cast is first-rate, as I couldn’t image any others in these roles.  This show is not for everybody, as the language is pretty raw.  But the subject matter will give you food for thought long after the play is done. 

    I do recommend it and if you choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS


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