Monday, March 28, 2016

The Few—CoHo Productions—NW Portland

“All the Lonely People…”

This drama is written by Samuel D. Hunter and directed by Brandon Woolley (and co-produced, with CoHo, by Woolley and Val Landrum).  It is playing their space, 2257 NW Raleigh St., through April 16th (parking can be a challenge in this part of town, so plan your time accordingly).  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-220-2646.

One of my sisters spent many years working and living in a small logging town in Idaho, so I’m sure she can identify with the characters in this show.  I had visited her often and can testify that these individuals are, indeed, real people.  There is something to be said for living in a small, isolated community, away from the hub-bub of the “neon jungles,” but it can be lonely, too, feeling that you might be missing out on something.  Often these townships breed truckers and that is how they are exposed to the wide, wide world.

But, even then, these people feel disconnected, isolated…lonely.  And so, in this case, a newspaper was born called, “The Few,” to reach out to those long-haul drivers, to let them know they have a lifeline, a safe haven, a place of refuge when needed.  At least that was the idea when Bryan (Michael O’Connell) began the paper in a run-down trailer in Northern Idaho.  But, at the onset of this play, he has deserted the pack to places unknown and left his then girlfriend, QZ (Val Landrum), to shoulder the burden.

She has turned the paper into a somewhat profitable enterprise by hiring an extra body, a young kid named, Matthew (Caleb Sohigian), to help out and is mostly a personal-ad rag now.  But, low and behold, the prodigal producer returns, somewhat the worse for wear.  And then the fireworks really begin.  The cynical lady, the fresh upstart and the old soldier are a mismatch from the beginning.  Bryan and QZ have some old baggage to sort out, involving the death of a very dear friend; a seeming insatiable wanderlust; a mysterious writer named Rick and dreams unfulfilled.

They will rail at fate, defy the gods and may find out that Life has just passed them by, or has only turned a corner to new adventures.  To see the outcome, you’ll have to view the play.  Hunter has quite the ear for realistic dialogue and characters, as you feel a bit like a voyeur, being absorbed into the framework of their rudimentary trailer, a haven for lost souls, perhaps.  Also, the addition of constant  interruptions from the outside world, in the guises of voices placing personal ads on the phone, are both disconcerting and purposeful, like a lifeline being randomly tossed out to see what it will snag.

Woolley has chosen his cast very well.  And he has managed to keep a contained environment highly charged with some outstanding performances.  Landrum’s, QZ, is a tough, cynical gal who barely sees any light at the end of the tunnel.  (I swear she resembles my sister’s neighbor in Idaho.)  O’Connell’s, Bryan, is a weary man at the end of his rope but has delayed taking that leap into the abyss in the hopes of one more chance.  And Sohigian’s, Matthew, is an idealist, a young man on the brink of…possibilities, discoveries, possibly a whole new world.  This is certainly one of the best acting cores I’ve seen!

It is said that “no man is an island,” but that is not exactly true.  We are all islands within ourselves.  The trick is to navigate uncharted waters, knowing that there are dangerous sharks in them, but having faith that there may be something good waiting for us just beyond the horizon.  These characters face that dilemma, as we all do, at some stage of our existence.

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

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