Sunday, October 27, 2019

DNA—OCT’s Young Professionals Company—NE Portland

      Lost & Found…and Lost Again

    DNA is a mystery/thriller by Brit author, Dennis Kelly, directed by Zoe Rudman and performed by Dani Baldwin’s teen ensemble.  For more information on her and the company, check this link out:
It is playing at Oregon Children’s Theatre’s studio space, 1939 NE Sandy Blvd., through November 10th.  For more information on the show, go to their site at

    This has shades of Lord of the Flies and Picnic at Hanging Rock, as they both concern students from a private, uniformed academy, just at the point of losing their childhood innocence and walking on the darker side of maturity.  These lads and lasses are use to playing games and having fun…until it become deadly.  It’s a grand story but doesn’t reflect the Youth I now see emerging, as the current breed is more mature than the crop of whiny politicians that are running this world…as the young make their voices heard for human rights, gun control and environmental concerns and so, I salute them.  But, again, this is just great spooky storytelling in a genre I love.

    These ten teens embark on a dangerous journey in which no one who survives will emerge unscathed (I may get names and faces mixed up, as they all wear uniforms and seem to blur together at times, which may be part of the point of the story).  At the beginning, Lea (Sylvia Grosvold), an animated lady, has a running monologue with her friend, Phil (Jasper Warhus), a bit of a loner, who all but ignores her.

    Jan (Aleena Yee), a serious sort, and her best bud, Mark (London Mahaley), also a serious dude, discover their schoolmate, Addie (Tessa Lignore), a bit of a social misfit, has fallen, or was pushed, into a deep hole and, I suppose, they fear they might be suspected.  So, they decide to manufacture DNA evidence that will implicate someone else, perhaps a transient.  And so, Cathy (Makenna Markman), a silly but dangerous girl, goes about doing the dirty work that must be done, and the entire group, consisting of Reggie (Claire Voilleque’), Danny (Josh Bransford), John (Kieran Gettel-Gilmartin), and Brian (Sam Majors), all conspire to create a false crime and criminal, and it works better than expected until…well, you’ll just have to see for yourselves, won’t you?!

    This is rather an ingenious plot that even Christie would be proud of.  And Rudman has chosen her cast well and keeps the setting simple (just some crates that are moved around to create different settings).  This way the acting and script are the center of the action.  This is a mature subject so be advised, it may not be for everybody.

    These roles are not typical “kids” roles, as they are all very complex characters.  And the casting of these specific actors is uncanny, as I couldn’t see anyone else in these roles.  And, I seriously doubt, any other group could do justice to the characters, as these ten young folks do.  The silent on, the frightened one, the misfit one, the silly one, the chatty one, the serious one, the lonely one, the crying one, the bossy one and the aware one…all form a dangerous liaison.  All were excellent but my eyes/ears kept wandering back to Grosvold, as her character had to bounce from one extreme to another, again and again, and not be predictable, and she did this admirably.

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


  1. Thank you for coming, Dennis!

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