Sunday, January 12, 2020

Stupid Ghost—Theatre Vertigo—SE Portland

             The Spirit Is Willing

    The West Coast premiere of this clever play is written by Savannah Reich and directed by Devon Roberts.  It is playing at the Shoebox Theatre, 2110 SE 10th Ave., through January 25th.  For more information, go to their sites at

    We all live in worlds, unknown, unseen by most but which is very active.  There is the world of Nature, on land and sea, in which animals and plant life rule.  There is the world of germs and microbes, undiscovered by most folks, but still inhabiting our space.  There is the world of outer (and inner) space, which we have mostly guessed as to who or what occupies that.  And there is the spirit world, dimensional perhaps, in which only suppositions exist as to actuality, but one in which we must all visit at some point, as most of us believe.  And what of their “lives,” thoughts, aspirations…“must give us pause.”

    According to our little setting in this outing, ghosts mainly live in the woods, just hanging out, it seems.  On occasion, they might follow around the living for a bit but according to The Book of Ghost Etiquette, must never interfere or interact with these beings, according to some Lecturers (Adriana Gantzer), and they come from a wide variety of backgrounds and attitudes, from Casper to Marley.  But Rule #1 is about to be broken.

    There is one Ghost (Jacquelle Davis), who is mischievous and more than a little curious about a certain young girl, Ronnie (Kala Maarja Hillier), and her blooming into a woman.  The Ghost finds this too much to resist and chooses, with the assistance of a more seasoned spirit, a Poltergeist (Tom Mounsey), who takes on the girl’s mother’s persona, and together dash the rule book out the window and, at crucial times, become these individuals.  This happens much to the fascination of Ronnie’s new boyfriend, John (London Bauman).  Although simply meant to be a lark, it does have some serious consequences.  To discover more, you’ll just have to see it for yourselves.

    This is my favorite type of theatre setting, the “black box,” in which you have to invent and present the setting in a very confined area with the simplest of props, relying only on the author’s word, the artistry of the cast and designers and the audience’s imaginations (long since replaced by CGI and electronic gadgetry) to create the show…in other words, pure theatre.  And Roberts and the ensemble do this concept justice!

    The cast is wonderful at creating silly, both in human and spirit form, as well as becoming more serious as the moments demand.  Kudos to the ensemble and this company for reverting back to the purity of true creation, making something out of nothing!
    Are we but dreams, as some poets suggest, or something more mysterious in purpose than that?  “There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in [our] philosophy.”  Muse on that the next time Life seems dull or worthless to you.

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

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