Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Brothers Paranormal—MediaRites’ Theatre Diaspora—SW Portland



Beyond the Norm

     This staged reading of the play by Prince Gomolvilas and directed by Catherine Ming T’ien Duffly is playing at PSU’s Lincoln Hall in the Boiler Room (#55), 1620 SW Park Ave., through this weekend.  For more information, go to their site at www.TheatreDiaspora.org

     What is the Nature of Reality?  As a child one thinks that everyone sees the world in the same way that we do (I know I did).  As we grow more mature, we find out just how wrong we are.  It comes as something of a shock to the system, forcing us to find our own reality/truth.  Some simply accept what they see before them, never questioning the validity of it, following blinding, like lemmings, over the cliff, if the crowd chooses to take that route.

     Others delve deep within, finding that elusive Truth in religion, perhaps, or materialism, or politics.  But, for some, the journey becomes very personal and they find solace in a secret world, only of their knowing, a tortured sojourn, which can take extreme patience by others to understand.  And some simply see a world of a dimensional difference to ours, a world which we call, the paranormal.
This is one of my favorite genres, so I was eager to discover how the author was going to relate it and I was very pleased.  Once upon a time…there were two brothers, Max (Samson Syharath), a professed non-believer, or debunker of such nonsense, and Visarut (Savira Khambhu), somewhat more compassionate in the search for a stable reality.  As you may have surmised, they investigate paranormal activities.

     Enter Delia (Josie Seid), a woman who insists she has been visited by an invisible, malevolent spirit, Jai (Melissa L. Magaña, also the Narrator) who wishes her evil for some reason.  Her flamboyant husband, Felix (Jasper Howard), has other ideas as to the haunting.  Max, who believes there is something seriously amiss, consults his sensitive mother, Tasanee (Elaine Low), for aid in understanding and, hopefully, ridding this house of the evil entity.  More I cannot tell you, as the plot has many twists and turns which an audience should discover.  But, just know, that not everything is as it appears.

     This may be only a reading but know that it goes far beyond that in very effective lighting effects (Xander Atwood), as well as live sound and music effects (Joe Kye).  And the authentic, live screams by Seid and Magaña are enough to chill you to the bone.  The descriptions in the narrations of the action are perfect for someone to write a screen adaptation for this story, which I predict, would be very successful.
 
     Duffly has successfully brought all these elements together, blending in a pretty amazing production, noting the fact that they have only chairs, and scripts in their hands, which does not in any way, hamper the power of this story.  And, like I said, I am a fan of this genre, finding that, like many filmmakers (having written/produced a couple myself), a good story is paramount to the key for their success.  Corman with his Poe/Price collaborations was a student of this, as well as Val Lewton and writers, Rod Serling and Ray Bradbury, Matheson and Beaumont, as well as King, among the best.  “The Haunting (of Hill House)” by Shirley Jackson and directed by Robert Wise, is probably the best of the filmed ghost stories.  Gomolvilas, in my opinion, has certainly joined the ranks of this elite group!

     And the cast is extremely powerful in creating the tension, as well as humor, in the story.  Hitchcock had always said in order to have a successful, suspenseful story, you need humor at times to break it up, to give the audience a chance to relax before the next shocker, which will then be all the more terrifying because the audience has momentarily has been lulled into a sense of safety.  Gomlovilas understands this well, as well as having a serious message underlying it.
Howard has a great voice and presence as the devoted husband and Sied is equally good as the troubled wife.  Low is always fine in their productions, as she is here, and Syharath, another mainstay of their shows, as the chief investigator, is at his best here.  Khambhu does a good job as a contrast to his brother.  And Magaña conveys very well the storytelling parts of the script, creating the necessary tension necessary, by just her voice.  And her transformation (as she is a lovely, young lady) into the ugly spirit, Jai, with nothing but her acting ability, is amazing (appearing very much like the evil entity in the Japanese “Grudge” films). 

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

--DJS