Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Brothers Paranormal—Mediarites’ Theatre Diaspora—NW Portland

                                          Smoke & Mirrors?

    This compelling ghost story is written by Prince Gomolvilas and directed by Catherine Ming T’ien Duffly.  It is playing at the CoHo Productions space, 2257 NW Raleigh St., through November 16th  (parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly).  For more information, go to their site at

    Storytelling is a unique art.  It certainly can entertain and be an expression of feelings.  And there are many mediums for storytelling, not only books, but films as well.  And they sometimes can educate, too, on the sly, if necessary.  Rod Serling (Twilight Zone) and Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek) found a way through Fantasy/Sci-Fi to address sensitive, social issues, too, like prejudice, abuse, gender concerns, et. al., face-on in these areas, without being censored, and the public at large was being educated, as well as entertained.  Such sly dogs they were.  (Not unlike W. C. Fields favorite expression of irritation on the screen, “Godfrey Daniels!,” which was slipped smoothly by the censors, since it really meant…well, you figure it out.)

    In a way, Gomolvilas does the same thing here, as did Serling & Roddenberry.  On the surface, it is a grand ghost story.  But, underneath the clever mystery, the play addressed such issues as mental illness, severe cultural shock, suicide, gambling addictions, alcoholism, etc.  In essence, it is not unlike a bedtime story you might read to your child at night, in which are fun images presented but with an underlying moral message to be gleaned, too.  So, sit back, relax (but not too much) and be entertained and educated by an expert storyteller.

    I can only give you a thumb-nail sketch of the plot because of the unique twists in the story.  Enter Delia (Andrea White), a woman who insists she has been visited by an invisible, malevolent spirit (in appearance, think The Grudge or The Ring films from Japan), Jai (Melissa Magaña), who wishes Delia harm for some reason.  Her flamboyant husband, Felix (Jasper Howard), has other ideas as to the haunting. 

    Max (Samson Syharath, also co-producer with Dmae Roberts), a ghost-hunter, with his brother, Visarut (Lidet Viravong), who believe there is something seriously amiss.  They also consult their sensitive mother, Tasanee (Elaine Low), for aid in understanding and, hopefully, ridding this house of the evil entity.  More I cannot tell you, as the plot has many twists and turns which an audience should discover.  But, just know, that not everything is as it appears.

    This has all the earmarks to someday be a film.  There are also some very clever “special effects” concerning the spirit’s antics.  Duffly has chosen her cast well and successfully brings out all the subplots of these characters that the author has created.  In other words, it’s just not another spooky thriller, but has a lot of depth underlying it.

    Magaña certainly must have some dance and movement training, as she is very agile and effective.  White and Howard work well together, showing the love between them and applauding the differences.  Low is very powerful as the representative of the old-world values and the conflicts of trying to adapt to new ones.  Viravong, as the older, more technically savvy of the brothers, is appropriately restrained, as he also tries to navigate this complex world.  And Syharath is always a joy to watch onstage.  In this incarnation, he grapples with the many complex issues that confront his  ever-changing and challenging ideas and beliefs.

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

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