Monday, February 12, 2018

This Girl Laughs…--CoHo Productions—NW Portland

Finding Home 

“This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing,” a fairy tale of sorts, is written by Finegan Kruckemeyer and directed by Tamara Carroll.  It is playing at their space, 2257 NW Raleigh (parking in this area is a challenge, so plan your time accordingly), through March 3rd.  For more information, go to their site at

As in one of the most famous, magical tales of a young girl, Dorothy, trying to find her heart’s desire, she discovers she must go over the rainbow to find out what she had in her own backyard was where her heart, and home, lay.  But, in order to realize that, she did have to go far afield.  As in this tale of three girls that must traverse the world wide, in body, mind and soul, in order to find the self same place.

This story is not uncommon in lore.  Within this story are the shades of “Johnny Appleseed,” “The Fantasticks,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Hansel and Gretel” “The Wizard of Oz,” and even, “Seven Samurai.”  We all desire to find our purpose in the world but that does not come easily.  Travel, tears and trials await those who seriously seek solace.  And such it is with these characters.

Albienne (Jen Rowe), the eldest of three girls, Beatrix (Beth Thompson), the middle daughter, and Carmen (Alex Ramirez de Cruz), the youngest, all grew up living happily in the forest with their father (Duffy Epstein) and mother (Sharon Mann).  But tragedy strikes even the happiest of families and, with that, often separation.

One went off to become a great warrior in the rural areas and leader of men.  Another traversed the wide sea and found a purpose in one of the great cities.  And the third simply stayed where she was in the forest and became friends with the animals, until a young traveler (Conor Eifler) came calling.  But, although a certain contentment settled in, they still had not found “Home.”  And to discover all the adventures they go through, you’ll have to see it.

Although, as mentioned, the story may seem familiar, it is in the telling that’s the magic wand to this production’s enjoyment.  It is told in a story-telling fashion with all the actors narrating and playing all the various roles needed to cement the tale, along with, of course, a high degree of imagination from the audience to fill in the blanks.  The set (Kaye Blankenship), costumes (Jenny Ampersand), lighting (Jennifer Lin) and props (Sarah Andrews) are all minimal, but very specific as needed, for the relating of this epic journey over many miles and several years.

Carroll has done an amazing job of not only choosing the perfect cast but also of keeping the story stream-lined for the audience so that they don’t get confused.  Rowe, Thompson and de Cruz are exceptional as the three daughters and I couldn’t imagine anyone else in these roles.  Epstein is always an asset to any production and this is no exception.  Mann is a wonderful character actor and I loved her “Lighthouse Lady.”  And Eifler, as the young man, and sometimes narrator, rounds out a magical cast.

I thoroughly enjoyed this production and would recommend it.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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