Sunday, April 21, 2019

A Dark Sky Full of Stars—Theatre Vertigo—SE Portland

        Nature of the Beast

    The world premiere of this stark drama is written by Don Zolidis and directed by Jocelyn Seid.    It is playing at the Shoebox Theatre, 2110 SE 10th Ave., through May 11th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-482-8655.

    The Human Spirit is a tricky thing.  It can raise you to the heights of Joy or drop you to the depths of Despair.  But the choices of where we land to forge our paths is not up to us and so, where we alight, is guided by both Nature and Nurture.  And sometimes the cards seemed stacked against us and we must fight an unwinnable battle just to survive, “The fault…is not in our stars but in ourselves.”  We can, in the end, only do our best with what we’ve got.

    A phrase that can be applied to this dysfunctional family might be, “Well, what family doesn’t have its ups and downs.”  In the program, the actors are not identified with names of characters, so I couldn’t tell you who played whom, but the ensemble is McKenna Twedt, Julet Lindo, Theresa Park, Dre Slaman, Adriana Gantzer and Kayla Hanson.  The main characters they play are a family, consisting of a father, mother, older son, younger son, girlfriend, and friend.  They also play assorted roles throughout.

    It is set in an impoverished neighborhood in a big city, where those that live there must deal with alcohol, drugs, abuse, gangs, et. al. and never really have a fair shot at grabbing the brass ring.  They must fend for themselves and there is a sort of code among them, “honor among thieves,” which seems to insulate them from the world outside, which seems to have pretty much given up on them anyway.  Finishing school is rarely accomplished, going into the military is an option, only to be still warring withy the human condition, only on the other side of the planet.  Prison is an end to some and, of course, there is death, always beckoning. Their ends are mostly a graveyard of shattered hopes and dreams, blanketed across an endless sky.

    It’s better that you see for yourselves this all-too-familiar saga of the forgotten, but know that you can’t help but identify with their plight, even if it is to say, “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.”  It is a stylized production, a beautifully done death scene is very moving, and the actors are very much in your face with their confrontations.  It is definitely worth experiencing.

    The cast is amazingly natural and totally vested in their characters and the story.  Kudos to all of them!  And the director certainly has explored, exploded and exploited the small space in which this drama plays out.  I hope to see all of them again involved with a play, as they are exceptional.

    I recommend this show.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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