Monday, April 14, 2014

pool (no water)—theatrevertigo—SE Portland

The Gang’s All Here

This “event” takes place “inside the pool” at the shoebox theatre at 2110 SE 10th Ave.  It is written by Mark Ravenhill and directed by Samantha Van Der Merwe.  It runs through May 10th.  For more information, contact their site at  They also have a next season announcement party at Vie de Boheme on April 23rd, which might be worth checking out.

This might be more accurately described as an event or awaking, rather than a play, as the audience is seated within the set (an empty swimming pool) and the actors talk to the audience (like a Greek chorus in days of old) as much as they converse with each other.  The atmosphere/set (Ted Jonathan Gold) is chillingly realistic (all they needed was the scent of chlorine). 

Unfortunately, pools evoke bad memories for me, as I was a sinker, not a swimmer.  Swimming, to me, was keeping alive in water.  Which might not be a bad metaphor for the story, except that one may be drowning…without water, possibly one of the points of the play.  If you dive into a pool, and can swim, you have a reasonably good chance of surviving, maybe even enjoying the experience.  But, if you dive in, without water, there will be crippling, if not fatal, results.

The story seems to center around a star or model, who is famous for her photos.  She has a band of hangers-on that revel in her shadow, but will never be truly great on their own.  They are the typical yes-men, druggies, lapdogs, toy boys (girls), et. al. that hang out with such celebs, licking the crumbs from her table.  On the surface, they dote on her.  Underneath, they loathe her (and probably, themselves, for being so dependent on her).

One fateful day, she dives into her pool which has, unfortunately, been drained of water.  Her broken and scarred limbs are on display for weeks in a hospitable bed, as she is in a coma.  But, art will out, and her “friends” see this as a photo opt.  So, with faithful camera in hand, arrange her limbs in “artistic” ways and take pics of her.  Their time has finally come, they echo, and now they will be famous on their own.  But a tiger cannot change its stripes, nor a piranha, its bite.  To tell more would not be good form for a reviewer but it leads to a bittersweet ending.

I am not able to reveal actual actors as relation to characters, as they all (except the model) play numerous roles, and there are no photos of them in the program.  But they are equally good (Christy Bigelow, Stephanie Cordell, Nathan Dunkin, Joel Harmon, Tyler Ryan, Holly Wigmore and R. David Wyllie).  The lead of the piece is beautiful, as the role as a model calls for, and does good in the acting department, an attribute a star should have.  All the rest are quite inventive, too.
Van Der Merwe has no easy task in assembling this piece of art itself.  It does move, flow, like an artistic piece should and will leave its viewers as to their own reflections.  And the set (Gold), as mentioned, is really the star of the piece.  It is really quite original and very appropriate to the play.  And the choreography/movement, by Jessica Wallenfels, adds beautifully to the piece.

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

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