Saturday, October 13, 2018

Marat/Sade—Twilight Theater Company—N. Portland

Tiptoe Through the Crazies

     This psycho-drama/dark comedy/musical is written by Peter Weiss and directed by Dorinda Toner (Twilight’s Artistic Director).  It is playing at their space, 7515 N. Brandon Ave. (corner of Lombard, small parking lot across the street), through October 28th.  For more information, go to their site at

     There should be a disclaimer (of sorts) in the program to the fact that “any resemblance to real life situations or people is purely…intentional!”  To say this is topical is truly an understatement.  Of course, this story is set in the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s in Paris, the time of the guillotine, French Revolution (Jean-Paul Marat, dissenter), the Inquisition, the Marquis de Sade (and his unique take on pleasure and pain) and Napoleon. 

     As you can see, it was not the romantic era of the 1920’s, when Paris was the hub of such artists/writers as Hemingway, Dali, Fitzgerald, Toklas, et. al.  These were revolutionaries of a different ilk…or were they?!  The most lasting kind of change comes with evolution over time, such as the young folks now opposing gun violence and pollution, and the MeToo Movement demanding respect and equality for women.  “Times, they are a-changin’.”

     This story, though, takes place in an asylum, where the new regime, Coulmier (Stan Yeend) and company, believe that play therapy will make inroads to understanding the mentally disturbed.  De Sade (Randy Patterson) being an inmate and writer, takes on the task of directing this band of misfits into an important saga of Marat (Greg Prosser) and the French Revolution, before he is stabbed to death in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday (Eva Andrews).  Among Marat’s followers are an ex-priest, Roux (Samuel Alexander Hawkins), his nurse Simonne (Jennifer Madison Logan), as well as, at one time, Corday and her horny boyfriend, Duperret (Skye McLaren Walton).

     To enable things to blaze along, there is a type of Greek Chorus (Kaitlynn Baugh, Maddy Gourlay, Jeremy Abe and Blaine Vincent III), singing ditties to enlighten us to the guts of the tale.  And to keep us all on track, (in verse, no less), is the Herald (Jeff Gibberson), a type of Host/Narrator/Jester.  Put this all together with ribald songs, stylized dance/movement, grizzly humor, lusty situations, murder, a touch of depravity, a dose of despair…shake it all about and you have this…Marat/Sade.  If this sounds like a show for discriminating adults only, you’d be dead right!

     This is not an easy production to produce, even for the most seasoned of troupes, but Toner and cast have done a pretty amazing job with it.  The set is simple but effective, as is the mood lighting, and the 20 plus roles, all are quite well handled.  The major roles mentioned, give a chilling account of incidents in history that echo even today in our current situations.  This is a timeless piece and is given a very good showing by a talented group, especially Toner.  Standing a notch higher in acting, is Gibberson, as our guide.  His use of timing, pauses, and subtle nuances are quite remarkable.  I’ve touted him in the past and he is certainly a talent to be reckoned with.

     I recommend this show but heed the subject matter.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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