Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Baltimore Waltz—Profile Theatre—SE Portland


         “Dream Within a Dream”


    This off-beat, dark comedy is written by award-winning playwright, Paula Vogel and is directed by Josh Hecht.  It is playing at the Imago space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (off Burnside), until November 3rd (parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly).  For more information, go to their site at www.profiletheatre.org or call 503- 242-0080.

    Tennessee Williams may have said it best about theatre (and, possibly, Life, too) that it is not reality that is being created, but the illusion of reality.  We all see Life through our own perceptions and it may not be as others see it.  We fill our world with our dreams, experiences, hopes, regrets…as we navigate through this Journey, this brief flame, called Life.  And, so it is, too, with Anna, in this flicker of an adventure in her normally mundane existence.

    Anna (Jen Rowe) is a schoolteacher and leads a pretty drab life.  Her best friend all her life is her gay brother, Carl (Dan Kitrosser), a librarian in the children’s section.  One day he is summarily fired for being a little too “pink” for the Board’s liking.  And so, he invites his sister to travel the world with him, now that he has some time to explore.

    Well, it just so happened that Anna has gotten some bad news from her doctor (Joshua J. Weinstein), that she has a deadly disease and only has a short time to live, so she opens her eyes to the possibilities of a life not realized and decides to take the plunge.  There is also a slim chance that a certain European scientist might have a magic solution to cure what ails her.  And so, they depart.

    It is a whirlwind adventure and she eats and screws her way across Europe with her faithful brother along as a companion.  But he seems engaged in some sort of mysterious plot that involves, perhaps smuggling, with his favorite stuffed bunny, Jo-Jo.  Intrigue and suspicion are now included in their adventure.  The conclusion will rock your world and so, ‘nuf said.

    Rowe is amazing in her multi-faceted character of Anna and she squeezes every last nuisance out of it.  She is always a delight to watch onstage.  Kitrosser is fun to observe in his complicated relationship with his sister.  And Weinstein is excellent in his many incarnations he presents onstage, from a shy bellhop, to a mad doctor, to a slimly security agent, to a mysterious spy, et. al.  He is quite the chameleon.  And Hecht is a marvel at keeping up the pace and taking us through multiple locations without losing the thread of the story.

    I do have one nit to pick with the story itself.  The ending, as I said, is a bit of a shocker, but I don’t think it fits the premise of the tale that Anna presents.  Without giving anything away, if one’s dreams of a final journey with a lifelong best friend, then it should have been more inclusive of that friendship as the basis, which does not happen here.  So, I think you should see it and judge for yourself.  Also, there is full male nudity (I feel unnecessary) in this production.

    I recommend the production for the terrific acting and set but the story, I feel, falls short of its expectations.  If you do see it, please let them know you heard it from me.
--DJS

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