Monday, June 13, 2016

Stupid Kids—Post5 Theatre—SE Sellwood area

The Invisibles

This dramatic comedy is written by John C. Russell and co-directed by Rusty Tennant (co-Artistic Director of the Company) and Stan Brown (Company member).  This play is produced in conjunction with Fuse Theatre Ensemble and the OUTwright Festival.   It is playing at their space, 1666 SE Lambert St. in Sellwood, through June 25th.  For more information, go to their site at

Sheriff:  “Hey, whatta you kids rebelling against, anyway?”  Biker:  “Whatta ya got?!”  Lines from The Wild One with Brando, a biker movie of the 50’s, which seems to fit this play, too.  It also has resemblances to the films, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, Disturbing Behavior, Fried Green Tomatoes, West Side Story, Grease, Footloose…but especially, Rebel Without a Cause, with James Dean.  In fact one of the main roles is called Jim Stark (Dean’s character) and even the classic line from that film is uttered, “you’re tearing me apart!”  Also Sal Mineo’s character is nicknamed Plato, from the philosopher, as is Neechee from this play and the four characters comment on needing a family unit to feel whole/accepted, as in the film.  My point is, if you want to see the geneses of the story, see the film, it’s great.

Jim (Jim Vadala) is the new kid at Joseph McCarthy High School and he intends on carving out his slice of the action by imposing himself on the most popular guy in school’s chick, Judy (Taylor Jean Grady).  She is impressed with this wayward wanderer so she makes herself available to him but that puts them both in jeopardy from the “ruling party” of the school.  The only safe haven for them seems to be with the geeks, the outsiders, who the gang pretty much ignores.

But these misfits also have feelings, too, and it just so happens, are gay, but not openly to others, and are best friends.  Neechee (Phillip Berns) has this dark philosopher for an idol and his pal, Kim (Jessica Hillenbrand) is in awe of the pessimistic singer, Patti Smith and the haunted poetry of Sylvia Plath.  In fact they are both poets and share their thoughts with each other through this medium.  It is inevitable that these two pairings would meet and find a certain solace in the fact that they are all on the outside, looking in at society through a glass, darkly.

Sexual identities will become confused and choices have to be made.  Does one join the establishment and become accepted, or continue to be an outsider, invisible, hunted and haunted?  For answers, you’ll have to see the play.  It is explicated in its language and sexual situations, so be aware.  In a very odd way, it is a love story of the truest kind, ultimately involving truth and sacrifice, two crucial ingredients for true love.  And it is the story of dealing with alienation, loneliness and the quest to be comfortable in one’s own skin in this big, wide (often un-accepting) world.

The directors have elected to use music from those periods, and lighting (Corey McCarey), as well as kinetic movement to enhance the story.  They have chosen well their cast, too, as they are first-rate!  Grady embodies well the difficult role of a girl wanting to be popular and desired, but coupled with the fact that she also really wants a friend and someone to confide in and understand her.  Vadala, a very good actor in all the shows I’ve seen him in, is able to make this role his own and he does it expertly, riding that thin line between needing to be bad but wanted to be understood.  Hillenbrand is spooky as she is able to express fire and pain, even in her more silent moments, as she truly knows how to project a character’s feelings to an audience.  And Berns is a treasure in every role he portrays.  He is an actor possessed by the characters he performs and his Neechee is all over the map with movement and expressions, suggesting an energy always at the point of explosion.  Kudos to all!

I recommend this play.  Also, there is ample parking in the lot behind the building, which is a God-send for a theatre in a neighborhood area.  If you do choose to see this show, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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