Saturday, August 4, 2018

Please Underestimate Me—Portland Playhouse—NE Portland

Photo by Andy Barr
                Duality Times Three

     This introspective play is adapted for the stage from Jay Flewelling’s book of personal essays, by Jason Rouse & Jessica Dart and directed by Rouse.  It is playing at the Portland Playhouse space, 602 NE Prescott St. (parking lot two blocks North of the theatre), through August 12th.  For more information, go to their site at

     I assume you realize that we mere mortals are more than one person?!  For example, you are a different character when around close friends; around family; around a loved one; around co-worker and/or schoolmates, etc.  This is well shown in the excellent animated film from Pixar, “Inside Out” or the very good film, “Being John Malcovich,” (or the extreme case of Jekyll & Hyde, if you will) as they all show different aspects of being the same person.

     In this case, the author, Jay Flewelling (an actor on stage, as well), is also played   by himself and five other actors (Rose Bonomo, Stephanie Cordell, Scott Engdahl, Shareen Jacobs and Savira Kambhu) are different stages of his life, as well as other characters in it.  And he certainly has had a varied life and learning experiences up to this point.

     Consider being raised in a Fundamentalist, Christian household, even speaking in tongues at their local place of worship; discovering his love of horses at an early age when his parents rented out their field to a group for their use, only to find out they were part of a radical organization; being a bully to those he felt were “deviates,” until he discovered the reason for his “hatred;” dealing with being fat as a child; and finding a certain peace when working for a group that consisted of military people, gays and the “riff-raff.”  Finding, ultimately, that we all are united under the skin and can all work together for a common good (a lesson not yet learned on a universal scale!).

     But what is probably most remarkable, is that much of his progress as a human being, was because people underestimated him.  When that happened, he found he could rise to the occasion and prove them wrong.  And so, when someone tells you, you can’t climb trees or play football or be a politician because you’re a girl, prove them wrong!  When you are jeered or laughed at because of your ethnic origin or color of your skin and thought inferior, prove then wrong!  When you (or someone else) are bullied or made fun of because of different beliefs, and that you don’t conform to the crowd, stand taller than them and be a leader, not a lemming…and pretty soon all those “thems” will be gone!

     This show will take up about an hour of your time but it will be well spent, I assure you.  The dividing of a person’s character into different segments is a clever device and well presented by Rouse and Flewelling and a talented cast.

     I recommend this show.  The book on which it’s based is also on sale at the box office.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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