Saturday, February 3, 2018

2.5 Minute Ride—Profile Theatre—SW Portland

Down the Rabbit Holes

     This one-woman show is written by Lisa Kron and directed by Jane Unger.  It is playing at the Artists Rep space, 1515 SW Morrison St., through February 11th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-242-0080.

     This is a roller coaster ride in an amusement park in the Mid-west, via the Concentration Camps of Poland, by way of her brother’s wedding, which gives you a vague idea that you are in for the ride of your life.  Lisa (Allison Mickelson) is on her own personal sojourn to make a simple documentary about her father and his life, but is Life ever that simple?!  When you begin investigating “the windmills of your mind,” it can take you through all sorts of rabbit holes, a labyrinth of twists and turns of undiscovered countries, of roads not taken, the ones imagined and, through it all, we are still looking at Life from our own perspective, perhaps, “through a glass darkly.”

     Lisa decided to accompany her father on a trip back to the “old country,” Germany, where he grew up, and the camps of Poland.  The mission was to find where his parents were buried as, like so many Jews of the WWII era, they lived in ghettoes and were taken to a concentrate camp where they were murdered, like so many others.  It is one thing to hear the stories, but something entirely darker to actually visit those places where the horrors took place.  Her father’s memory, although his eyesight was failing, described every pothole and curve in the road as they traveled--a path of broken dreams.
But, as memories do, other images come to mind, such as the love of roller coasters her father had.  Did they represent the ups and downs of his life, his family—possibly?  And how does one describe a dysfunctional family, anyway.  It is one thing to have lived it, as it may have seemed so normal, but another thing altogether to try and describe it:  Why was her mother afraid of cameras; or why, in a whole day at an Amusement Park, the concentration was on the food choices from her family; or, with a brother getting married, what kind of uproar such events can cause; or explaining being gay in small-town, mid-west America to your family.

     Well, that is only the tip of the iceberg of her explorations, a type of stream-of-consciousness that, if it doesn’t drive you crazy, just might make you stronger.  Believe me, the story is better told in Mickelson’s capable hands, who is a whirlwind, a firestorm of activity, and is directed by Unger, who has conceived the pace of the show from very rapid-fire to some very pronounced pauses, and they keep you intrigued every step of the way.  They are both masters of their crafts and it shows!
An interesting side note, and I’m not giving anything away since it happens right at the beginning of the play and continues throughout, Lisa has a slide show that she presents at various points in the story—but the slides are blank!  One speculation is that the author wanted the audience to put themselves into those pictures so that they became more personal.  My own thoughts are that pictures are permanent, but memories, fluid, and that seems to be the point, or state-of-mind, of Lisa.  Whatever the reason, it works and you can make up your own minds as to the reasons.

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


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