Monday, March 4, 2019

Tiny Beautiful Things—Portland Center Stage—Pearl District

       The Facts of Life

    This touching slice of life is adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) from the book by Cheryl Strayed (“Wild”) and directed by Rose Riordan.  It is playing at the Armory, 128 NW 11th Ave. (parking is a challenge in this part of town, so plan your time accordingly), through March 31st.  For more information, go to their site at

    To re-imagine a quote from a comedian on his deathbed:  “Dying is easy, [Life] is hard.”  Simple, but to the point.  As soon as we’re born, we begin to die, everything in-between one should make the most of, but rarely do.  It is said that Youth is wasted on the Young meaning, to me, that once we realize what it’s all about, it’s over.  I mean, come on, “what the fuck…!”

    The story is about a woman, “Sugar” (Dana Green), having already been to Hell and back, writing an advice column from letters received from various individuals (Leif Norby, Lisa Renee Pitts and Brian Michael Smith).  The stories are a true microcosm of Life.  But they evolved even more, as the dynamics change over time, into a dialogue, and that makes all the difference.

    The subjects range from dealing with sexual identity, frustrations of Life…and Death, the Nature of Love…and Lust, loneliness, dealing with abuse (sexual, emotional, physical), the Meaning of it all…and everything in-between.  Some of the more dramatic moments include the young person dealing with being a Trans and the riff it causes with his parents; the young girl that is forced to perform sexual acts with a relative; the man who must deal with the death of his young son and how it has destroyed his world; the young woman who was not present at her Mom’s deathbed; et. al.

    And what is the take-way from all this angst?  Love is a major healing factor that is emphasized.  But, Walt Whitman said, that before one should expect love from another, they should love themselves first…for, without that, how can you expect others to love you?  Another learning point is to just be yourself and, when that’s accomplished, if others cannot accept you for who you are, then consider it their loss, not yours! 

    And, if in trying to understand other perspectives that may be alien to you then, as Harper Lee suggested, you might try to get inside their skin and walk around in it for a while…it might open your eyes to other possibilities.  But, perhaps, the most important of lessons from these tales, is that we are all made up of stories…and stories within stories, and interconnected to other people’s stories, and so we are ultimately all united within this cosmic community.  We really should be making the most of it and building bridges with each other, not walls!

    Riordan has an amazing cast and, being that three actors play a majority of the roles, it is crucial that you have just the right artists…and she does!  And Green, as the focal individual, is very touching as she struggles with her own demons, as well as trying to help others do the same.  She is a fine actor in all the plays I’ve seen her in.  And the director has them all interacting natural with the spaces, rather than having them deliver their parts as separate monologues, which works perfectly.

    I recommend this show but, be aware, it has very adult language and situations.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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