Monday, September 19, 2016

Full Gallop—Triangle Productions!—NE Portland

Color Me Red

This one-woman show about Fashion designer, Diana Vreeland, starring Portland’s own superstar, Margie Boulé, was written by Mark Hampton and Mary Louise Wilson and directed and designed by Donald Horn (Triangle’s Artistic Director).  It is playing at their space, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (off Sandy), through October 8th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-239-5919.

I do confess when I saw who this show was about, I was totally lost.  I had no idea who Diana Vreeland was.  But she was an icon in the fashion industry, as Editors of both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue magazines for many years.  She rubbed shoulders with other eccentric icons of her generations, such as Capote (writing), Warhol (art), as well as political figures and crowned heads of Europe.  She admitted she was lazy and felt no desire to work but she had an innate sense of style and color and that led to her position in the fashion world.

She traveled abroad frequently, entertained the upper crust to lavish parties in her Park Avenue apartment and lived well beyond her means.  But she was also happily married for many years and had children.  Her favorite color was Red because, as she put it, it was the “great clarifier.”  All other colors faded by comparison.  Her philosophy went something like this:  When at a loss, “Fake it!,” or faced with reflections on the past, “Don’t look back!”  She led a fluid lifestyle and was not a follower but a bold leader when it came to opinions and fashion, “a great believer in vulgarity,” and the perfect pitcher of a product or idea, give the Public “what they never knew they wanted.”  You could say she, indeed, did live life at “full gallop!”

The setting (beautifully designed by Horn) is her “red room” in her apartment, as she is preparing for one of her many parties, after a refreshing trip to Europe and having just been fired from Vogue.  She is dressed (curiously) in black and the only red she wears is a very vivid splash of red rouge on her cheeks.  It seems that Vreeland (Boulé) spends some of the time on the phone chatting with other “important” people or conversing with her maid, Yvonne (Alexandra Boulé-Buckley) on the intercom, for preparations for the party, which aren’t going well.  It seems she owes money all over and credit is not forthcoming.  Also her guest list is thinning out.  Into this mélange, she tells her stories.

I won’t elaborate more as Boulé is the superior storyteller.  And I can’t say I would bow to anybody else’s sense of a style (as my friends would readily attest to, I’m sure).  My sense of fashion is to simply be comfortable…that’s it.  I especially like Horn’s style of dress, too, as he’s always wearing shorts, is barefooted (no matter the weather) and has great locks and tan.  In other words, he doesn’t follow anybody else’s sense of style, either.  So, maybe that’s my message, just be comfortable in your own skin, and “let the world slide.”

What more accolades can you say about Boulé that hasn’t been said many times before?  She is a bona fide icon in the Portland area.  I first saw her at the Portland Civic Theatre (now gone) when she did the female lead in the musical, Little Shop of Horrors, back in the 80’s, I believe, and she rocked the place with her outstanding singing voice.  Since reviewing shows for the last five years, I have encountered her again onstage in other guises and even had the pleasure of chatting with her in person on occasion.  A couple of things one can say about an icon, such as she, is that you never tire of seeing them onstage, as they bring a special magic, allure, persona on the stage with them.  Also, in her case, she has the ability to “inhabit” a role, which few actors can, in which she transforms before your eyes into the person she portrays, and blurs out any previous images of that character.  In this case, she is more attractive than the real person, in my opinion, and therefore, that is the image of Vreeland you will take home with you.

And Horn and Boulé, have worked together more than once before, and it shows in the comfort in which you feel when encountering what these two have created.  Horn’s set is certainly one of the best, as he had to re-create a room that became famous during that period and it works beautifully.  Also, I have to give a special shout-out to Boulé-Buckley (I assume Margie’s daughter), as the voice of the maid.  By the end of the show, you have a picture of what this person might look like, listening to her pregnant pauses, her sighs, the attempt at a professional manner when speaking and the underlying frustration she must feel when dealing with such a “boss.”  I wish she would have taken a bow at the end, possibly in a maid’s costume, as I think the audience would have responded warmly.  Again, the old adage comes to mind, “there are no small parts...,”case in point.

I recommend this play.  If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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