Sunday, September 30, 2018

Wakey Wakey—Portland Playhouse—NE Portland

     “Rise & Shine”

     This exploratory story of the human psyche is written by Will Eno and directed by Gretchen Corbett.  It is playing at their space, 602 NE Prescott St. (parkin lot 2 blocks North on 6th), through October 21st.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-488-5822.

     Since this seems to be a “sensory” story, involving all the senses of a man on the verge of something, perhaps, extraordinary.  Using, maybe, the same path the main character of Guy (Michael O’Connell) does, I am confronted/invaded by possibly like memories of past events, such as the last few moments of Kubrick’s, “2001:  A Space Odyssey;” or the old man’s recurring vision of his family across an uncrossable stream in Bergman’s classic, “Wild Strawberries;” or my own visions of laying, as a child, on a hillside, and watching trains in the valley rushing by and imaging stories in my head of the people on them and knowing that someday I would be a writer.

     Guy is a man in a wheelchair (that he appears not to need) and sharing with us memories of a lifetime through visuals, sounds, music, a type of cue cards, as triggers of memories, perhaps, and inviting us to likewise notice and embrace our world around us before Time, The Great Equalizer, catches up with us.  Looking for meanings in lost phrases, ruing over regrets…letting go, seems to be the key advice for those wishing to move forward.

     Then, into his world appears Lisa (Nikki Weaver), a type of nurse/guardian, perhaps, or possibly more to the point, a gatekeeper.  She is a comforter for him…patiently watching, soothing, picking up pieces of lost thoughts.  Guy seems to be enveloped in little things, strains of familiar tunes, sounds and sights of nature, but always in the act of waiting…waiting for what?  The next act in a drama that is just out of reach; another stab at a life lived and…misplaced; peace at the end of the tunnel?  Or is his purpose, perhaps, to pass the torch on to us, with full understanding that endings are never final, nor beginnings, pre-determined.

     Corbett is definitely an actor’s director, as she has managed to infuse little nuances into all the little nooks and crannies of Guy’s moments.  And O’Connell is a perfect choice for the role, as he is so natural (as is Weaver) that you feel you are sitting right there in the room with him, as he shares his thoughts with you.  Eno has written an introspective story, and yet it seems to resonate with everyone…a rare gift as a writer
     I recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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