Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart—Artists Rep—SW Portland



         
 








                                                                                 A Mid-Winter, Mis-Adventure’s Dream    

    This interactive, cabaret-style show is written by David Greig and directed by Da’maso Rodriguez and Luan Schooler.  It is playing at the Tiffany Center, 1410 SW Morrison St. (4th floor), through January 5th.  For more information, go to their site at www.artistsrep.org

    Love may be the tale “as old as time,” but this morality story ranks up there with it.  Writers from the ole Greek and Roman days have told and re-told their fables of “gods and monsters” up to the present-day incarnations.  One of their favorite subjects seems to be of the Underworld (Hell/Hades) and the main proprietor of it, the cloven-hoofed fellow himself, Old Nick/Satan/the Devil.

    Writers such as Stephen Vincent Benet, Rod Serling, Ira Levin, Ray Bradbury, et. al. and films such as The Omen, The Devil and Daniel Webster, et. al. and even Disney’s Fantasia (Night on Bald Mountain) and the recent Tony-awarding winning musical, Hadesville, speak of an unholy entity and his gyrations to seduce folks into visiting his realm—for all eternity!  This play is such a tale.

    According to Scottish legend, in ballads and folklore, there is one night of the year, Mid-Winter’s Eve, at the border or crossroads of a country, where Hell is opened up and unwary souls are sucked into the vacuum created (as well as souls possibly escaping) to/from the abysmal pit.  But outwitting ole Nick is not all that easy, as he’s had eons to perfect his craft.

    Prudencia (Amy Newman) seems to be a likely candidate for such a “visit,” as she is a naïve young girl, an innocent, a sort of Every-Woman type of character.  And, better yet, she is a believer in the old-world ballads, folk tales and lore and somewhat of an earthly authority on it, too.  Her chief opponent is a modernist, Colin (Eric Little) who doesn’t believe such dusty nonsense but instead, favors only what can be touched, or seen with the naked eye. 

    And so, the die is cast with only one more character to be added, the ole fellow himself, Nick (Darius Pierce) who, posing as a mild-mannered B&B owner on this snow-bound night, awaits with open claws, er, arms, his victim and, like a spider with his web, draws her into his ever-lasting den.  Too easy, you might say…and you’d be right.  What if this lonely, ole fellow, who never lets down his guard, finds he may not know, or have experienced, everything?  What if she finds a strange allure, a fascination, with him and his realm?  What if there is a way back to her home turf and even to turn the tides on the Master Trickster himself?  Guess you’ll just have to see it, to find out how it all turns out, won’t you?!

    I’ve simplified the story a great deal and have just given you the core of it.  But, at well over two hours, there is an ensemble cast (Susannah Mars, Luisa Sermol, Rachel Bentzen, Kerie Darner, Corey Silver, Haley Novasio, and Alicia Hueni, that play many supporting roles, as well as a very fine duo, The Katie Jane Band (Katie Lubiens & Adam Easley) to liven things up even more.  This is a mischievous, bawdy, naughty play that interacts with the audience and it is a rollicking, good time!  It’s also highlighted with a no-host bar.

    The music, songs, performances and direction are very energetic and cleverly distributed throughout the audience area.  But the script is ponderous, overwritten and repetitious and could be pared down by a third, I believe.  What saves it, is the immensely talented presenters!  As noted, this is an adult affair and may not be suitable for everyone.

    I recommend this play, as it is a fun romp on a cold, winter’s night.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
--DJS

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