Monday, March 17, 2014

.Next Fall—Triangle Productions!—NE Portland

“What a Piece of Work is Man”

This drama is by Geoffry Nauffts and directed and designed by Donald Horn.  It plays at their location at The Sanctuary, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd.  This production will run through April 6th.  For further information, go to their site at or call 503-239-5919.  They are partnered with Basic Rights Oregon for this show.  And don’t miss their Season Announcement Party on Tuesday, April 15th at 7 pm—free to everyone.

We crawl, we bawl, we stumble, we crumble, we rise, we fall…in between, we live.  The path of being human is never easy.  We all have our quirks, our burdens, our regrets, our uppers and downers.  But the hardest part of it all might be to just stand up and be proud of who we are.  Not…whenever, not someday, not tomorrow, or next Fall, for they never come, but now.

This piece of work certainly touches on a lot of heavy issues, most importantly, perhaps, owning up to who you are and the things you believe in, and not hiding anymore.  This story is about love, and prejudice, and human rights, religion and God.  And, perhaps, the most amazing part of their journey is, that none of these people are perfect.  And so, it should be easy to recognize our neighbors, our family, even ourselves, in these characters.

The story begins in a hospital’s waiting room, where Luke (James Sharinghousen) has just been seriously injured in an accident.  Present are his gregarious mother, Arlene (Helen Raptis) and his conservative father, Butch (Bill Barry).  Also in attendance are his current lover, Adam (Jason Glick) and his former lover, Brandon (Alex Fox), as well as Adam’s childhood friend, Holly (Michelle Maida).  As they converse and share memories of Luke, we see, through flashbacks, the kind of relationships they’ve had with him and each other.

Luke is an aspiring actor, who chances on Adam at a high school reunion of his.  Soon they are lovers and apartment mates.  But all is not perfect, as Adam is an atheist, and Luke, a Christian.  In fact, Luke prays for forgiveness every time he has sex with Adam because, according to his upbringing, it is a sin to sleep with another man.  Adam not only finds this justifiably insulting but, since he doesn’t believe in a God, downright incongruous.

Also, Luke has not “come out” to his family, so Adam is simply a co-worker to them.  But his mother, flighty on the outside she may be, seems aware of a more personal connection between her son and Adam.  His father appears clueless but since there are clues all around, he must be aware, just not accepting.  Brandon can deal with the fact that he has sex with other men but not the reality of love between same sex unions.  And Holly, probably the most aware of this whole menagerie, simply accepts people for who they are and doesn’t judge.

Another important element in this story is that Adam has no rights as to the fate of his lover, who is in a coma.  In fact, he cannot even visit him.  But probably the most important view of all these proceedings is that these characters, as mentioned, are not perfect.  They are flawed, and so, very identifiable to the audience.  The outcome of the story I will not give away but, suffice to say, changes are in the wind.  Wish that were so in real life for some of these issues.
All the points this play brings up, I would venture to say, will connect with the viewer.  I grew up in a very Catholic environment where, in education, the Arts were not encouraged, there were no people of color in the congregation or school, and gayness was never even discussed.  Not an inviting atmosphere of preparedness for the outside, adult world I would enter.

Since then, I have immersed myself in the Arts, broken away from this religion (but not from God) and have had many friends of color and that are gay.  From this, I conclude, that the young years of growing up are the formative years and best not mess that up for our kids.  Education and understanding of all walks of life are important for being the fullest human beings we can become.  As to the secret of Love, it’s easy, simply…love them.  And, as to relationships, to borrow from a Medical oath, “First, do not harm….”  Just my take on the vast possibilities.

Don has, once again, provided us with a stimulating, thought-provoking platform on which to view Life!  He is quite the artist and his cast seems to respond to his gentle nudges.  Glick is very good at exploring the conflicted, sometimes tormented figure, trying to traverse his way through the mire.  An amazing performance.  And Sharinghousen is strong, as the somewhat naïve partner of the duo, as we become aware of his struggles with the issues of loving God and another man.

Raptis, as the mother, creates quite a full character, as a person fighting addiction, trying to be a good wife but also a supportive mom.  Beautifully done.  And Maida, as the good friend, is the wisest of the bunch, and does well in attempting to balance the relationships.  We should all be as lucky to have a friend like Holly.  Barry, as the father is, unfortunately, too identifiable in the real world and he plays it well.  And Fox does nicely, too, as the conflicted former lover, giving us another view of an already complex mix of God, gayness and love.

I recommend this show but, be aware, it has some very adult situations and issues.  If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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