Saturday, November 5, 2016

Bright Half Life—Profile Theatre—SW Portland

Elusive Love
This two-character, non-linear, journey through Love and Time is written by Tanya Barfield and directed by Rebecca Lingafelter.  It is playing at the Artists Rep.’s space, SW Alder St. and 16th Ave., through November 13th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-242-0080.

This play takes on two enormous subjects, the Nature of Love and how Love translates over a period of years.  It is said that near the moment of impending Death, your “whole life passes before your eyes,” or at least, certain segments of it.  This could be the setting for this story, as it is told in snapshots, but in a non-linear fashion, of two people’s lives, Vicky (Chantal DeGroat) and Erica (Maureen Porter).  But then it also begs the question, why is it that only certain aspects of one’s being occur in this sort of journey?  One has to assume they were crossroads of sorts for that person.

The “snapshots” in these two people’s life of love were, riding on a Ferris Wheel, with Erica scared of heights; meeting at their workplace at a computer company, Erica having no affinity with numbers; early dates, looking at the stars together, on a ferry, Erica getting indigestion at a restaurant, et al.; skydiving together, with trepidation; having children and watching them grow up; buying kites; dealing with parents on being gay; proposing; buying a bed together; moving away; breaking up; et al.

Jumping back and forth in time must have been hectic, to say the least, on the two actors and, although it does takes some getting use to.  But, in this very nature of austerity, on a bare stage with no props, it does reduce things to a common denominator.  That multiplier, and divider, is called Love.  It can be looked at in a scientific fashion (a good companion piece to this would be CoHo’s current show, The How and the Why); or in a romantic context, often called animal magnetism or just plain lust; or in a poetic sense, as if from afar, letting words and phrases do the expressing; or picture it as a forever thing, “womb to tomb;” or, perhaps, the truest portrait, just working at it, giving and taking….

A couple of signposts along the way should be noted, though, don’t just take it for granted.  Also, don’t over think it, either.  Just embrace it as a path of life, with many side-roads, bumps and twists and turns along the way, traveled two by two, if that is what your Fate deems.  And fluid time might be looked upon as an enemy, as it is fleeting, but what the real enemy is, is not making the most of every minute, and holding them dear, like photos, those simple, silly, little life-pauses that make us uniquely who we are.

This story, through these two amazing actors, do capture the essence of Life and the importance of memory and time in very specific but elusive ways, never revealing the whole purpose but with a sense that something important has just been shared.  And, in the final result, sometimes you just have to take the leap and “let the world slide.”

Both DeGroat and Porter share with us perhaps the purest kind of theatre, letting it all hang out, no fancy setting or costuming to hinder the vision…just being.  Not an easy task for a performer, as there is nothing to hide behind, then.  Which makes them vulnerable and, thereby, identifiable to the audience.  Lingafelter has chosen well her cast and has modulated their performances with enough energy, pauses and emotion that one witnessing it, fills in the blank in their own minds.  I heard a lot of knowing ums and ahs from the audience as the tale progressed, revealing they connected with their plights.

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

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