Sunday, March 11, 2018

Between Riverside and Crazy—Artists Rep—SW Portland

“Windmills of Your Mind”

    This searing drama is written by Stephen Adly Guirgis and directed by Adriana Baer.  It is playing at their space, 1515 SW Morrison St., through April 1st.  For more information, go to their site at                                                                                                          

     It is said that a person has three secrets.  There is the one that you share only with your best friend; the second one you keep to yourself; and the third one is hidden even from you.  What we have in this story, in part, are secrets within secrets, and stories within stories and we discover, as the characters do, that we are forced to peel back the layers, like an onion (tears included), until we find the core of ourselves and then we are set free.

     At the outset this is a normal, dysfunctional “family” (yes, I realize that is an oxymoron but it does seem to fit this grouping).  There is “Pops” (Kevin Jones), the head of the clan, a retired ex-cop and a bit of a constant tippler and a junk food addict, who rules with an iron fist, occasionally encased in a velvet glove.  Then there is the flighty son, Junior (Bobby Bermea), who has a short temper and doesn’t seem to have any solid job.  There is also living in the household, Junior’s girlfriend, Lulu (Julana Torres), who loves him (and “Pops”) unconditionally, but isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.  And the final relative of the house is the cheerful, Oswaldo (Illya Torres-Garner), a relative, who is on a bit of a fitness kick.

     Other members that weave into this extended fabric of a family are his old friend and co-worker, a detective, Audrey (Val Landrum), who appears to have been trained by “Pops” as a rookie cop and has great affection for him.  Also, there is Dave (Ben Newman), also a co-worker of his, now rising in the ranks to a Lieutenant and has ambitions to soar even higher.  And, finally, there is the Church Lady (Ayanna Berkshire), whose congregation ministered to his deceased wife and now appears to be trying to save him, but her methods are a bit unorthodox, to say the least.  And so, as the story progresses, the masks are stripped away and they are exposed to the elements to see if they can adapt to changes, evolve with them, or perish.

     Really can’t tell you any more, as revelations come fast and furious and it’s up to an audience to discover them.  Baer has cast this play perfectly and her pacing is spot on, as she hits you hard and fast at times, and then relaxes a bit for some of the more subtle moments.  And Jones is a master at performing (and directing) and this is a dynamite role for him.  He is a powerhouse that can’t be tamed.  The rest of the cast, too, all seasoned professionals, have their time in the sun onstage and they burst with energy when they command the boards.

     I recommend this production, especially for the powerful performances.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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