Sunday, January 28, 2018

Magellanica—Artists Rep—SW Portland



“Winter of Our Discontent”

     This epic play is written by E. M. Lewis and directed by Dámaso Rodriguez.  It is playing at their space, 1515 SW Morrison St., through February 18th.  For more information, go to their site at www.artistsrep.org or call 503-241-1278 (keep in mind, this is a 5 1/2 hour show, including intermissions, so plan your time accordingly).

     The time--1986.  The place—Antarctica, South Pole.  The team—8 scientists from all walks of life.  The Reason—Verify whether a hole exists in the ozone layer.  The Purpose—to save the planet!
These few, these chosen few, have been given an almost impossible task, no, not so much to prove or disprove the existence of the hole—but to do it together as a team!  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  And then, look at Congress and the inability to even get the simplest of tasks completed.  Or the current President, who doesn’t believe in global warming, let alone the existence of a hole—“Fake News!”  Then, and now, an uphill battle for these brave souls.

     There is Dr. Morgan Halsted (Sara Hennessy), American, a loner, a very private individual, who is charged with verifying through the telescope if a hole exists and, perhaps, if it does, to verify the cause.  Her reluctant partner in this quest, is Dr. Vladamir “Vadik” Chapayev (Michael Mendelson), a Russian, a cranky sort who insists on pointing fingers to the world’s problems at the Americans.  Dr. May Zhou (Barbie Wu), a Chinese American, able to distinguish facts but fails to often perceive purpose to ideas.  She befriends Dr. Todor Kozlek (Allen Nause), a Bulgarian, who longs to make the ultimate map of the world, but has moments to mentor May in “taking time to smell the roses.”

     The leader of the expedition is Captain Adam Burrell (Vin Shambry), African American, military, a war veteran who can’t seem to leave the past buried.  Freddie de la Rosa (John San Nicolas) is an American of mixed heritage, military, Mr. Fix-it of the team, who is good with machines.  Dr. William Huffington (Joshua J. Weinstein) is a Brit, very stand-offish, easy to offend and be offended, who, like all the others, holds a personal secret.  And Dr. Lars Brotten (Eric Pargac), part-time cook, bird-watcher, obsessed with penguins especially, who plans on writing a book about this whole eight plus month’s experience.

     Together they will rail against the elements, and each other, delve deep into their own psyches, and find answers to questions they never asked.  Highlights in this production are the Mid-Winter Follies, in which layers are stripped away.  And a high point in that is the telling of a tale in the person’s own tongue, acted out, and the audience loved it.  Really can’t tell you more without revealing the many plot devices that this long sojourn into a person’s soul will reveal.  Believe me, it is time well spent!
Rodriguez has his dream team in casting this production.  I couldn’t imagine anyone else in these roles.  And the cast, many of them company members, are at the top of their game and all have stretched their talents into unknown areas, thanks to Rodriguez, Mary McDonald-Lewis (dialects, voice & text), the author, an amazing set (Stephanie Kerley Schwartz), exceptional lighting designs (Carl Faber), and sound and composer (Rodolfo Ortega).  This mighty team has traversed not only to lands unknown but to parts of human frailty and vulnerability proving, perhaps, that in the end, regardless of differences, we are stronger together than apart!  Pass it on….
I highly recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.


--DJS