Friday, May 10, 2019

Escaped Alone—Shaking-the-Tree—SE Portland



         Down the Rabbit Hole

    This avant-garde, dark comedy is written by Caryl Churchill and directed by Samantha Van Der Merwe.  It is playing at their space, 823 SE Grant St., through June 1st.  For more information, go to their site at www.shaking-the-tree.com or call 503-235-0635.

    We all have dreams, visions, fantasies, but only writers are fully capable of putting those thoughts before an audience.  It can be cathartic for the author and an eye-opener, perhaps, for a viewer/reader.  In this case, we have visions of, perhaps, the collapsing of the old world, or is it the birth of a new one?!  Or, just maybe, you will see other possibilities….

    We have before us, what appears to be a setting on a patio area of what seems to be a pleasant summer day.  Three mature ladies, close friends (Jane Bement Geesman, JoAnn Johnson and Lorraine Bahr), appear to be having tea (Mad-Hatter’s Tea Party comes to mind), and reminiscing about past events in their lives.  Into this comfortable assortment of ladies, appears a neighbor (a dark version of Alice?), Mrs. Jarrett (Jacklyn Maddux).  She is marginally accepted into the pack.  And then the fun begins….

    It seems they all have their little secrets.  One has an inordinate fear of cats; another feels isolated, possibly preferring it, from the rest; and one is haunted by the death of a loved one in an extremely brutal manner.  But the neighbor tops the cake for dramatic overtones.  She has visions of a destructive force beyond any of our imagination…a vision of Hell, itself, perhaps, as she relates this only to the audience. 

    The outcomes of all these diatribes you’ll have to see for yourself, as there is no linear story to speak of.  But the performances of these four actors, especially their monologues, are worth the price of admission alone!  And Merwe appears to be an actor’s director, as she deftly leads them through the pauses, as well as the rages, all pointing to something just beyond our grasp.

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


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