Sunday, January 26, 2014

Therapy Hunger—Post 5 theatre—NE Portland

Litany of Pills

This short play is by written by Cassandra Boice and directed by her husband, Ty.  It is part of the Fertile Ground Festival and runs until February 2nd at their space at 900 NE 81st Ave.  For more information, go to their site at

This may be presented as a dark comedy but the message is deadly serious.  We have become a nation of druggies and I don’t mean the illegal kind.  We have prescribed and medicated ourselves into an alternate reality, where everything is possible but nothing makes sense.  We numb our senses to pain, hoping that we have eliminated the problem which it caused.  But we may have also numbed ourselves to the Natural World.

If one is anxious, there is a pill to deaden that, if one is nervous, meds can calm you, if your life seems to be in the toilet, Doc Feelgood can flush the bad stuff away.  Not unusual that there are so many Zombie movies and series that deal with people in a somnambulist-like state.  Is it possible we are identifying with such creatures and that prescription drugs are a bridge to that world?

In Boice’s play we meet a woman (Boice) who is viewing infomercials, informing her of all the choice, expensive drugs she can take to feel (or not feel) just about anything (watch TV and see if I’m exaggerating).  She then begins to go to various therapists to cure her of her mania of choice.  Of course drugs are always the solution.

One sex therapist (Chip Sherman) talks, not to her, but to her vagina.  Another one is an East Indian guru (Maya Seidel) who tries to get her into the flow of life.  And then there are the doctors who preach Pseudo Gestalt or Freud theories.  All, of course, unable to actually solve anything, so they prescribe self-help books and drugs to do what they cannot or will not do.

In the end, the patients’ bodies/psyches all react to these artificial changes in themselves and they become like marionettes, unable to control their own beings and become a series of distorted and twisted images of their former selves.  It ends on a sad note, with a woman in tears, unable to comprehend…anything substantial.

This play is a powerful indictment on our over-medicated society.  The dance/movement aspects at the end are beautifully choreographed by Chip Sherman and add to the success of the production.  He and Seidel are appropriate and scary as the various “healers.”  And Boice is always good in the acting department and this time has a supportive team in her own script and her husband, as the director.

It can be said that theatre/acting is its own therapy and certainly a lot safer than a world of drugs.  One hint I might make in her play, is that it might be a lot stronger ending if a child could be incorporated into the story as a victim, too, as that would make a statement as to the defenseless generation of children and how they are being led astray.

I recommend this show but it is adult in nature.  If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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