Sunday, December 12, 2021

Shining City—Imago Theatre—SE Portland


Mirror Image

    This LIVE production is directed by Jerry Mouawad and produced by Carol Triffle (co-founders of Imago) and written by Connor McPherson.  It plays through December 18th at Imago’s space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (off Burnside).  Parking can be an issue, so come early.  (Covid protocols in place…vaccine cards, masks required and spaced seating).  For more information, contact them at or call 503-231-9581.

    This follows hot-on-the-heels of the latest venture of McPherson , who adapted last month, The Birds, at Imago.  And these characters have much in common with his current production, as they are, at least, kissin’ cousins.  The striking similarity is that they are still…“all the lonely people, where do they all come from?!”

    When you look in a mirror, what do you see, staring out at thee?  Is it the person you really are, or the one that you want to be?!  Life actually lived, or Life as you imagined it to be?!  And then, consider a giant mirror, with all the folks in the world reflected in it…what would they see.  Regardless of difference, I surmise, they would have one thing in common…they would all be fearless and fearful, at the same time, of what the Future might hold for them.  And when we step toward that Unknown entity, and indeed, we all must take that step, to discover our own Fate.  We are all in the same boat, my friends.

    And so, it is with these characters in the Shining City.  There is Ian (Mark Mullaney), a rather straight-forward therapist, whose job it is, to listen to other people’s perceptions of reality, all the while grappling with his own.  Then there is a client, John (Jeff Giberson), a man riddled with guilt and haunted by demons/ghosts, perhaps of his own making.  Neasa (Tess Middlebrook), Ian’s lady, who is conflicted with her role in their relationship and, perhaps, in the world.  And, finally, Laurence (Matt Sunderland), a mysterious stranger, willing to dispense whatever is needed to the needy.  All these characters will collide, ricochet off each other at times, and then be sent whirling on a separate path.

    More I cannot tell you, for discovery is in the eye of the beholder, dear audience, but make no mistake about, you will not leave the theatre unmoved…or unreflected. The characters are all well drawn and keep you guessing as to their fates.  Giberson has some amazing long monologues, which he handles brilliantly.  And Imago, with the team of Mouawad, Triffle, et. al.are among a small select group of theatre, among them Crave, Young Professionals of OCT, Triangle, et. al. giving us thought-provoking, as well as entertaining, theatre as with this one.  May they all “live long and prosper!”

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


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Bella Bella—Triangle Productions—NE Portland


“Bell(a) of the Ball”

    This one-woman, live show, written by Harvey Fierstein, from the words and works of Bella Abzug, is directed by Donald Horn.  It is playing in their space at 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (free parking lot next to the building) through December 11th.  Be advised that full Covid protocols are in place…vaccine cards, masks, temp. check, etc.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-239-5919.

Where are they now?: 


There were Champions…Warriors,

Those who stood up for the

“Huddled Masses yearning to be Free.”


There was Abe and George

And Harriet and Sojourner

And Eleanor and Thurgood

And RBG and MLK…


There were Champions…


    Add to that list, Bella.  A name I had only heard about but knew little of.  But now she is my hero!  I don’t want to tell you too much about her because (and I think she would agree) you should make up your own minds when you see the show.  But, again, that was part of her philosophy, even from the third grade when she was running for an office.  You should speak your own mind and not follow the dictates of others.  And, by God, she did just that and found her place amongst the champions of history!

    The action of the play follows about an hour or so in the life of Bella Abzug (Wendy Westerwelle) on one fateful night in the Fall of 1976.  As she’s hiding out in the bathroom of Manhattan’s Summit Hotel, awaiting a decision on her bid to become New York’s first woman senator!

    As she paces the room, she ruminates for the audience some of her long career to date, as a lawyer, wife, mother, and a stint in the House of Representatives.  She was a Democrat and a liberal but always spoke her mind, which could get her in trouble at times.  But she was a fighter for the underdog, especially for Women’s Rights.  She was a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and a believer in a woman’s right to choose.  And, of course, a woman’s right to be in politics.

    And, something sorely missing from today’s Congress, she Listened to the People, following what they needed, not what some Party line demanded.  She was a pioneer, a trailblazer, a rebel…a Champion!  And, as mentioned earlier, where are such folks now.  They are out there, I’m sure, in our Youth…such as Greta…Molalla…and others.  They are there, waiting to take up the reins she left behind and are the leaders of the Future!

    Horn never fails to be provocative, informative and entertaining in his productions, as he does here.  “May he live long and prosper.”  Firestein has always been a favorite of mine, as a writer and performer, as he does here.  And Westerwelle is a wonderful storyteller, as I could listen to her all night, as she weaves her tales of Bella!  And I think you will be equally captivated by her mesmerizing performance.

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


Sunday, November 21, 2021

I Am An Actress (live stage)/Becoming Adorable (film)—Fuse Theatre—SE Portland

                                                                 Becoming Jane 

    This duel production is playing at the Backdoor Theatre space in the Common Grounds coffee house, 4319 SE Hawthorne Blvd. (former home of Defunkt Theatre), street parking only, so plan your time accordingly.  The play is directed by Sara Faye Goldman and features Jane Comer (who also wrote it). The film is conceived and presented by Jane Comer.  It runs through December 19th.  For more information, go to their site at

    The mystery of why we become who we are is not so much whether Nature or Nurture is responsible, but what we do with what we’ve got.  Some, like Jane, know from the age of four that things got a little mixed up in God’s workshop, when it came to assigning her a gender, and so she had a long and arduous road of discovery ahead of her to finally find her true identity, a female, and her Passion, acting.

    But all roads to self-discovery are fraught with pitfalls and revelations.  My road began at ten years old, when I had my first conscious memories of a childhood.  The former years are a riddle, inside an enigma, wrapped in a Black Hole.  In other words, no clue!  And others that I’ve met and gotten to know, are as varied as the grains of sand upon the beach.  And so, my point is (and perhaps, in part, Jane’s, too) is that we all have our stories to tell, but if we really look hard at another, and are willing to walk in their shoes for a bit, we may find we are really not so different after all.  And ain’t it grand to see how many colors of the rainbow it takes to make its beauty…all vibrant…all necessary!

    Jane recounts, sometimes in painful memories, of her Mom’s upbringing (and hers, as well).  It’s not a pretty site but it forged a drive and passion within her to find a positive and constructive way of dealing with these issues and finding her way of exorcising these demons…as an actress.  First, in comedy, and now as an actress and writer…and a very good one, I might say!

    I have deliberately sluffed over the meat of her story because it really needs to be shared by Jane, and she is so natural onstage that you feel she is talking directly to you, as an old friend.  I hesitate to break that communication she has and so it must be shared by her and not through a third party.  It is also wise that Jane had the foresight to have another eye view her material, and herself, in the form of Goldman, who dos an expert job of honing all the pieces together like a home-made quilt.

    The film segment, in part two, has a movie critic, Amy Williams (Comer), of romantic comedies, giving her viewpoint of 4 episodes.  But don’t be fooled by this ruse, as the purpose of this piece comes closer to home than that.  I don’t want to give it away, so you’ll just have to see it to discover the true meaning.  But the entire project is written, produced, directed, edited and performed by Comer, which is quite a feat, but what else could you do, as an artist, during the isolated times of the dark days of Covid.  All very well done!

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


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Professor Jekyll & Miss Hyde—Theatre Berk at Twilight Theater—N. Portland


What a Piece of Work is (Wo)Man”

    This is a modern re-telling of Robert Louis Stephenson’s classic tale of the duality of man, adapter by the producer, William Thomas Berk and directed by Shannon Walcott-Cluphf.  The production plays through November 28that Twilight’s space, 7515 N. Brandon Ave. (off Lombard, free parking in the church parking lot across the street) Normal Covid protocol is expected…vaccine cards and masks.  For more information, go to their site at

    There have been many versions of this classic tale of Good and Evil.  One of the earliest has Fredric March playing Hyde in the 30’s, literally as a monster.  Spencer Tracy then came along later in the 40’s, with hardly any make-up, to show the transformation.  Jack Palance did a television version.  And there has even been a musical version (performed very well in Portland by Kirk Mouser).  There was even a film version with a male Jekyll and female Hyde.  But, though, the most interested was by Jerry Lewis as The Nutty Professor, playing Hyde as a suave, snobbish singer called, Buddy Love and, perhaps, patterned on his old mate, Dean Martin.

    The theme may boil down to the proverbial question of whether there is even a God (Good) and a Devil (Evil).  An old fable (Mexican in origin, I believe) says, in short, if you believe in evil or a demon, that proves the existence of God, because there would be no reason for one, unless the opposite existed, too.  And so, what happens, when the two come face to face with each other and, thus, we have this gripping tale.

    Being, in part, a mystery, I can’t reveal too much of the tale without giving away key elements an audience should discover.  But I will tell you this is a modern-day, re-imagining of the story, with mainly a female cast in most of the key roles, echoing for this purpose, the Me-Too Movement.

    College professor, Mary Jekyll (Kate Faye Cummings) is engaged in a secret project at her school, which she feels will benefit mankind, in short, the ridding of evil from man’s nature.  But she won’t let anyone observe the results of such experiments, not even a trusted assistant, “Bobbie” Poole (Rachel Ladd).  And the head of the school, Dean Otteson (Shelley Tate) is too absorbed in school politics to pay much notice.

    But then the atmosphere on campus changes when a prominent professor (Samuel Alexander Hawkins), is torn to bits and he was last seen in a bar with a supposed prostitute.  It is also notable that he was an alleged rapist of students and so not all mourned of his passing.  But Poole and her wife, Louisa (Meghan Daaboul) decide to do some detecting on their own and they discover some uncomfortable connections to Jekyll’s mysterious friend, Zela Hyde.  To discover the rest, you’ll just have to see it.

    This adaptation does follow some interesting philosophical discussions about right and wrong, and good and evil and so also becomes a diatribe on that, as well as a chilling story.  Cummings is excellent in the dual roles, as her whole body seems to evolve, as well as her acting style, portraying the two characters.  Kudos to her and hope to see more of her onstage…in either incarnation.

    Berk’s play is a good grasp on an age-old subject, with women in the prominent roles.  It gets a bit preachy at time but nevertheless is an interesting examination of the dual nature of a person. Cluphf has kept the play moving at a brisk pace and her choice of actors for the roles is spot-on.  Also many  kudos to the set changers…Caralynn Rose, Maddy Gourlay, Rosalyn Long and Berk.  They deserve as much praise as the actors!

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


Sunday, November 7, 2021

The Birds—Imago Theatre—SE Portland


“All the Lonely People,

Where do they all come from…”

    This LIVE production is directed by Jerry Mouawad and produced by Carol Triffle (co-founders of Imago) and adapted for the stage by Connor McPherson from a story by Daphne du Maurier.  It plays through November 20th at Imago’s space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (off Burnside).  Parking can be an issue, so come early.  (Covid protocols in place…vaccine cards, masks required and spaced seating).  For more information, contact them at or call 503-231-9581.

    If you go expecting to see Hitchcock’s terror-filled film, this is not it, as it’s adapted from the book.  But Hitch did seems to be enamored of  this author, as he did two more film adaptations from this writer, Jamaca Inn in the 30’s with ?Charles Laughlin and, in the 40’s, the award-winning, Rebecca, with Sir Laurence & Joan Fontaine.

    I don’t believe the choice of this play was accidental, either, for this specific time period.  It includes facets of loneliness, fear, isolation, paranoia, angst, depression, and visions of Nature’s rebellion, as if it were just trying to “eat us up” for all the ills we have inflicted on this good earth…as stewards of it, we seemed to have failed miserably!  Theme sound familiar in this day and age when we are faced with a number of real-days wraths of Nature?!

    The characters include a drifter, Nat (Matt Dibiasio), who is picked up by Diane, an author and Narrator, at times, of the story (Melissa Jean Swenson), and together they break into an abandoned home in a rural part of a small coastal town.  It seems the entire county, and perhaps, country, are being besieged by birds of all varieties and are bent on destruction.

    Soon they are joined by a mysterious, young, hippie-like girl from the village, Julia (Elizabeth Rees).  And so an uneasy bond is formed, to avoid the pecking invaders.  Oddly, they feel as if hiding or running from the furious, feathered fiends, but not fighting back, is the answer, as if these agents of our society have already accepted their inevitable fate! 

    But then, one more characteris briefly added to this motley crew, Tierney (Paul Bright), a resident of the rural village, who seems to have captured the essence of the birds’ rebellion.  To give you too much more information, would ruin elements that the audience should discover, so I’ll leave it to you to see this exciting and insightful production.

    Another note, the pecking by the birds on these intrepid travelers is nerve-wracking, thanks to the sound design by Myrrh Larsen and bird puppeteers, Nate FitzSimons and Elise Erickson.  The cast, too, is uniformly fine, keeping us on our toes as too …are these folks really who we think they are…?

    Especially noteworthy, I thought, is Rees, as the young outsider.  She has a quirky, offsetting way of presenting her role, which keeps you guessing as to who she really is, even after the play is over.  A revealing performance and hope to see more of her onstage in the future.

    Mouawad again has done a masterful job of bringing us a topical subject and entertaining us, as well as asking us to think about who we are really.  I’ve always enjoyed everyone of Imago’s productions, even if I didn’t fully understand them…they always pepper my imagination with possibilities…

    And watch for another production by this very inventive author in December, a ghost story for the holidays, Shining City.

                                                    I highly recommend this production.


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Happy Times—Imago Theatre—radio play, on demand


What the Butler…Didn’t See

    This absurdist, 50 minutedark comedy, was written and directed by Carol Triffle, and produced by Jerry Mouawad.  Sound and court voices by Kyle Delamarter and Jon Farley.   For more information, contact

    It seems that Trudy’s (Danielle Vermette) home is really a playground for murder, and her friends, Gladys (Laura Loy) and Judy (Amy Katrina Bryan) are willing participants in this annual, little game that has been going on for years.  Only member of this group that must change every year is the victim because…well, he dies at the end.  But not to despair, he does have a value as he becomes fertilizer forTrudy’s garden.  And, besides, what’s a little murder among friends?!

    Only fly in the ointment this time, is that the victim, the lover/butler of Trudy, Corey (Matt Sunderland) refuses to stay dead…really bad form, ole chum.  And it seems that the courts have no sense of humor about it, as they decided to try the case,anyway.

    The D.A., Mister B. (Randy Bynum) does a remarkable job of grilling the suspects, as well as the intended victim.  All goes swimmingly, hot tub not withstanding, as he details of the “alleged” crime.  Alleged because the intended victim was, indeed, almost killed but from a car accident he had when being confrontedby a a tree…so why not put the tree on trial, instead of these misunderstood ladies?!

    I choose not to give away details for the supposed attempted murder…so that you can decide for yourselves.  Although, I do confess, I usually will take the woman’s point of view over a man’s in most circumstances, as womenare often mild, pleasant, albeit a bit peevish in some instances (as the Bard might concur), as in this one, perhaps.

    This does have a haunting, and loving flavor to it, as a noir-type comedy, as scribed by Triffle.  The actors, too, are obviously having fun with it.  It compares favorably to Dr. Cook’s Garden and, as mentioned in the play, to Hitchcock’s brilliant, “Rope.”  All the more pleasurable (and safer) for you, the listener, to be safely seated, absorbing the chills inwardly, vicariously, while letting the outside world go mad!  I recommend this play.


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Sweet Afton—Corrib Theatre—Radio P


What Price Freedom?!

    This 20-minute radio play by Jaki McCarrick is directed by Tracy Cameron Francis and runs through September 5th.  For further information, go to their site: 

    It has often been said…Freedom is not Free and the price you pay for it, can be a heavy one.  We see that now with the immigrants, especially children, at the borders between the U. S. and Mexico.  The loss of personal dignity, and often, all your possessions, is evident.      Our own Japanese-American citizens felt this humiliation during WWII, when sent to Internment Camps, simply because they were the “wrong” color.  There is no excuse for such bad behavior by governments but, I fear, it will continue for years to come.

    In this incarnation, we have the camp in Ireland called Direct Provision, a way of detaining and, perhaps, discouraging asylum seekers from becoming a part of the free world.

    Kazim (Shahjehan Khan) and his sister, Leila (Fatima Wardek) are from Afghanistan, looking for refuge in Ireland but are seeing resistance and, in consequence, have been in this camp for five years.  They do make a friend in Andrea (Lauren Bloom Hanover) and Kaz is encourage to run for a political office within the camp, as he wants to improve the situations of all refugees.  I can’t tell you how it turns out, so you will have to listen to it for yourselves.

    The plot, through some very simple but poignant dialogue, exposes the humanity of those concerned, emphasizing that immigrants are not some monsters or low-life’s, but just ordinary folks wanting to contribute to the betterment of Mankind.  The actors are all very believable and the director has endeavor to keep the characters realistic so that we can identify with them.  Well done.

    We currently are beginning the process of doing just that from that war-torn country and this play might highlight the humanity of those people, too, as they adjust to a new life here and elsewhere.  A timely and topical situation, to say the least.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

What You Need—Clever Enough Productions—video theatre

 The Importance of…Being

    This is an original short Zoom play, written and directed by Valerie Asbell, (founder and artistic director/producer of this company).  For more information on this show and others, go to their website at

    Every generation has there major and minor crises imbedded within it.  Sometimes it’s a War; other times, natural disasters; riots, human rights issues, political turmoil, et. al.  This generation, the Covid Pandemic seems to rule that coveted spot.  And, with all events of this nature, changes must be made…some good, some not.

    There is no doubt that Covid has altered irrevocably our behaviors in some ways, probably forever.  The bad that came out of it, among many things, were that people died, of course.  But isolation has altered many people’s sensitivities and has put a strain on relationships and our very livelihoods.  And then the stimulus checks lit a candleflame in the darkness for us.

    This play is based on a true incident and is a refreshing and different take on what is important to a person to hold on to their sanity.  A group of friends…Emma (Gerie Voss), Mary Anne (Christie Quinn), Clara (Allison Anderson) and William (Tanner Huff) have been having zoom conversations in order to maintain some order of human contact.  But one person, Emma, has a dilemma as to how to use her stimulus check.

    She has long been interested in playing the piano and now that time has been forced upon her, in which little is moving in the civilized world, she has contacted Hal (Tony Domingue—also plays a mean harmonica), who has a piano for sale, and she wants to use a part of that monies to buy it, since she now has time on her hands.  But she feels guilty, as she senses it may be considered a mis-use of the reason for the check in the first place…what to do, what to do…?!  You’ll have to see the play to discover her solution…considering, what price sanity….

    It is clear, within these times, old rules may not apply to this “new world” philosophy.  But one thing is clear to me, holding ontoone’s sanity is an important health question, too, and whatever it takes to do that should be considered a valid use of such a “windfall!”

    I recommend this play.  It is a “clever-ly enough” written piece and brings up an important issue.

    (And, a side note, Asbell is a director of note, as she has not shied away from past efforts in directing productions of Rhinoceros and Hamlet, very difficult shows, in which even the most seasoned directors would shy away from.  And she is a fine actor, too, having played the difficult role of Annie Sullivan in a production of The Miracle Worker.  She is an artist to take note of and should be encouraged to shine in her profession)!


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Whose Child Am I Anyway?—Corrib Theatre—June 18th-July 18th


“What a Piece of Work is Man…”

    This 30-minute, radio play, is by Bisi Adigun and directed by Bobby Bermea.  For tickets, go to their site at:

    This is a particular timely piece, what with the Black Lives Matter movement, the murders of black individuals from racism and the institution, at long last, of a Juneteenth holiday, recognizing the ending of slavery in this country.  It doesn’t excuse any of this, mind you, but only emphasis the distance we still have left to go, to end racism once and for all, against folks for the color of their skins…Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Latinos, et. al.

    The most blatant example of racism to me was  the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.  We were also at war at this time with Italy and Germany, too, but were any Italian-Americans or German-Americans put in camps?  No, because the color of their skins was essentially white, meaning the Japanese-American were imprisoned simply because of the color of their skin, not because they were potentially the enemy…Shame On Us!

    This story touches on similar lines, as an educated, Nigerian teacher, Biyi (Don Kenneth Mason), married to an Irish woman, Cathy (Danielle Weathers), a pharmacist, is unable to get a position because of the color of his skin.  They presently are expecting their 18-year-old, daughter, Roisin (Celia Torres), home from a trip visiting relatives.  It should be a time of joy and celebration, except  an unexpected letter arriving that will change everything--forever!

    More I cannot tell you because of discoveries for the listener, but it is a doozy.  The three actors are so good, that you can easily visualize them almost in front of you.  Bermea, a very experienced director, succeeds in bringing this important tale to life. It does touch on the questions of Paternity and the age-old riddle of Nature vs. Nurture, as to who we really are.  The explanation I like best, is that “it takes a whole village to raise a child,” which encompasses a lifetime!

    I recommend this production.

Friday, June 4, 2021

High Dive—Triangle Productions!—NE Portland

photo by David Kinder/Kinderpics
photo by David Kinder/Kinderpics

                         Life’s Journey:

A Matter of Balance

    This is the first Live theatre I’ve seen in over a year.  Strangely, the last plays I reviewed, before the shut-down happened, were Blood Brothers at Triangle, and then the opening weekend of OSF (they closed immediately after that).  Now Triangle has opened up again for their second Live show of their season, and OSF will be opening a Live show in July!  Welcome back!

    The play is a one-woman (Lisamarie Harrison as Leslie) show, written by Leslie Ayvazian and directed and designed by the incomparable, Donald Horn.  It is playing at their space, 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (free parking in the lot to the West of the building), through June 19th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-239-5919.

    Two words to keep in mind, as they relate to this story:  Crossroads and Fate.  As children, our destinies began to form and a certain regularity startss to infiltrate our lives.  Attitudes and events begin to take place that seem repeated in some form, which appears to be fated (Karma, perhaps).  I think we can all identify with that.

    In my case, it was always being picked last on a team in school, or being an outsider at social events.  When leaving grammar school, we were each given a certificate, voted on by classmates, as to our possible careers.  My two nerdy friend were voted most likely to go to college, so I assume the same for my fate.  But my lot was to be an “Undertaker!”  The class all laughed and I chortled louder than the rest, but was crying inside.  True story.

    And that was the crossroads for me. When I got into high school, I found my calling in theatre and have never looked back.  To date, I have acted produced, or written over 250 productions.  I have even taught theatre and presently have been a reviewer of theatre for over 8 years, having reviewed more than 800 plays.  My way, I guess, of thumbing my nose at those old school mates.

    And so, we all have a choice like that in our lives, when fate seems to take on a familiar ring, do we continue to follow it, or take the plunge…off the High Dive?!

    Leslie’s life seems to be one of disaster after disaster from childhood,as each of her “vacations” seems to involved some sort of calamity…tornados, fires, floods, car accidents, etc. and even the present-day catastrophe of having the A/C in their motel room break-down in over 100 degree temps.  Has her fear of taking risks, kept her from facing these dilemmas head-on and by confronting them, perhaps, defeat them and changing her fate?  The most recent being taking the high dive into the motel swimming pool, which other do with relish.

    I won’t tell you the outcome, or even relate the many tales in this 70 minute production, as Harrison is a master of that!  She gives us in explicated details, and very entertainingly, of life that seemed prone to giving into  repeating ills, or taking the “bull by the horns,” and making her life what She wants it to be! A lesson that can be learned by all of us, I’m sure, in this time of unrest, either to submit to an undesirable fate, or face the unknow with abandon and “take the plunge?!”  Do we solve the problems of the Past, or are we doomed to repeat them?!

    Horn, as always, has given us something to think about and entertained us as well.  And Harrison is a gem, being the perfect conduit for the author’s and Horns visions.  I recommend this production!


    A side note, a good friend of mine, David Paull, came to the play with me and his comments are priceless.  Here is what he said after the show:

    "It was heartening to see people greeting each other at the theatre last night...calling out and waving to one another, like pilgrims nearing the end of a long journey through Covidland. In the 'before time' play goers would gather regularly to enjoy live theatre. Then came the global pandemic that shut everything down. There was a palpable sense of relief and renewal to finally - FINALLY- be at Triangle Theater again, eager for another adventure with friends all around."


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Pretty Proud Boy—Corrib Theatre—May 21-June 20

Down the Rabbit Hole

    This 30-minute, world premiere of this radio play is written by Rosaleen McDonagh and directed by Gemma Whelan.  Go to their site for more info:

    Although the play is Irish, the concerns and events are universal and topical during this COVID-19 era, surrounded by the Black Lives Matter Movement, immigration, protests, the “yellow-vested” movement, family dynamics, isolation and folks at a crossroads in their lives.  In this case, a concerned mother, Winnie (Deanna Wells) and her rebellious son, David (Zak Westfall).  The heart of the story is pretty much told in two, powerful monologues, one by the son and one by the mother.  But, because of discoveries the listener should make, really can’t reveal much of it.

    Both individuals have their points of view as how to handle conflict and strife, and, is predictable, in the generational gap in many situations like these, there are marked differences in how to approach change:  Non-violent confrontation?  Outright rebellion?  Peaceful demonstrations?  Submission?  Nothing that seems to work for everyone.

    One should remember, though, that if one peers into the abyss, beware, something might just be peering back at you, too!  Also, we too often forget that one size does not fit all, as one’s heritage and perspective tend to dominate our views, as is expected, but true change may lie in walking in somebody else’s shoes for awhile and see the world through their eyes.

    This is an impressive, heartfelt piece, as raw emotion, blind bravado, and inherent love rise to the surface, all at the same time in, like I said, two very powerhouse monologues, especially, and very well written, directed and performed!  I recommend this production.



Friday, May 7, 2021

IMAGO Theatre—"The Strange Case of Nick M.”—May 7th to the 16th, 2021



“Thanks for the Memories (?)”

     This radio play is written by Drew Pisarra, directed by Jerry Mouawad & produced by Carol Triffle (co-founders of Imago).  Music is by Clara & Robert Schumann and The Fucked Up Beat.  Piano compositions are performed by Eric Little and Chase Garber, and sound design by Myrrh Larsen.

     Memories are tricky things.  They have three components—Truth, Reality and…I forgot the third one.  Gotcha! that is the third one—foreign intervention, or perspective.  Ever remember something and then someone else chimes in with another version of the same incident?  Who is right?  Probably both parties, as memory is fluid and is influenced by the passage of time…as well as one’s own perspective.  The most prominent example may be Kurosaka’s immortal film, “Rashomon,” in which four people are involved in, or witness, a tragic event and the stories all vary, depending on the personalities/character of the individuals, begging the question then, what is the Truth/Reality of the situation?

     This story has something in common with the short, avant-garde play from yesteryear, “Krapps Last Tape,”  as well as Dr. Olver Sacks’ book, and subsequent film, of “Awakings.”

     As the tale goes, according to the smarmy Narrator (Danny Gray), Nick M. (Sean Doran) is a famous, classical concert pianist, who has developed the unique dis-ability of only remembering things for about 30 seconds…the ultimate in short-term memory.  And so, he is put under the care of a European doctor, Dr. Polina K. (Vanessa Hopkins) who has some rather unorthodox methods of curing his affliction.

     He is put in a controlled environment, in which all his actions are audibly recorded.  His wife, Betty (Nancy Campbell), is allowed to be his caretaker, as well as, perhaps, a memory-jogger for him.  And even his estranged daughter, Liz (Stephanie Woods), occasionally is allowed to drop in on him to see if she can shake his mind back into normal operation.  But the only thing that seems to work, is his music, which does give him some brief reprieve…“music soothes the savage beast,”maybe?

     Through all this kaleidoscope of knitting and stiching of the patchwork quilt of memories, is a solution found?  Ah, but that would be telling, wouldn’t it?  You’ll just have to hear for yourselves now, won’t you?

     This is definitely worth listening to, as the subject matter alone is monumental, and has no easy answer, if indeed there is one.   Mouawad (and Imago) are never ones for anything but provocative subject matter, and this is no exception.  It plays like a Christie mystery…intriguing, complex and thought-provoking…and in this Covid age of non-activity, might be just what one needs to stimulate those “little, gray cells,” again.

     The actors are all in fine voice, and color their performances so one can imagine the picture, but I do miss the visuals of Live theatre for the facial expressions and body language.  And the music by the Schumann’s, and performers of it, Little & Garber, add immensely to the success of this production.  I recommend it…definitely worth your time!

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