Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Events—Third Rail—SE Portland

“Look What They've Done To My Song”

This timely production is written by David Greig and directed by Scott Yarbrough.  It is playing at the Imago space, 17 SE 8th Ave., near Burnside (street parking, so plan your time accordingly), through November 18th.  For more information, go to their site at www.thirdrailrep.org or call 503-235-1101.

Boy, is this a timely piece, or what?!  As we got out of the matinee for this show on Sunday, the news was on the air about another mass killing in Texas in a church.  It seems there are two things that are constant on a daily basis in the news—what dumb things did our “fake” president say/do today and where was the last mass killing.  Sad state of affairs we’re going through now.

In this scenario, it concerns a dedicated choir director/pastor of a small church, Claire (Maureen Porter), who may be losing her faith.  But she sees music, her choir (in this case, The Sunnyside Community Choir), acting, too, as a sort of Greek Chorus (commenting on and participating in the action, at times), as her solace in a troubled world.  Into this contained community enters The Boy (Joseph Gibson), who is a lost soul, wanting to make his mark on this earth, to be of worth to his “Tribe.”  But, it seems, his idea of “his mark,” will disrupt the lives of many.

These two actors will play many roles throughout the production, a counselor; Claire’s lover, Katrina; a psychiatrist; a killer; a friend; a journalist; a native boy; et. al., and as they interact, a full spectrum of the psyche of the incident/event emerges.  Killings are not just one thing, nor are people.  We all are made up of thousands of variables, with equally as many outcomes, and our fates rest in what choices we make at the crossroads for these events. 

And, moreover, is it Nature (pre-destiny) or Nurture (upbringing) that drives our passions?  But a simple rule might be, regardless, “First, do no harm…” to oneself or others.
Of course, I can’t tell you the full story, or I would be a spoiler, but know there are no easy answers.  A brilliant addition to this scenario is the introduction of a choir (also, unfortunately, very timey, too).  They sing hymns/songs periodically throughout that will fit with the action taking place, as well as playing supporting characters in this production.  Pure genius, as it adds so much to the emotional impact of the story!  And their Song continues…!

Yarbrough has his work cut out for him, as the scenes only consist of a few chairs and minimal costumes changes to fulfill the narrative.  But it works exceedingly well as it concentrates our attention to “The Events,” the author’s words and the actors’ talents to paint the disturbing, disjointed but very real world that’s gone awash with a type of madness.  Porter and Gibson are excellent and totally convincing in the many varied characters they present.  It would, indeed, take a high caliber of talent to present this story and they (actors, Choir, crew & author) are them!

I highly recommend this show but know that it is emotionally charged material and not for the very sensitive.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.