Friday, April 7, 2023

The Inheritance (Part I)—Triangle Productions—NE Portland


“What a Piece of Work is Man…”

    This award-winning, epic drama is written by Matthew Lopez, directed by Andres Alcala and produced by Donald Horn.  It is playing at their space at 1785 NE Sandy Blvd. (free parking lot next to the building) through April 17th.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-239-5919.  (Masks recommended because of Covid).

    It is said, we are the sum total of all our parts.  And those “parts” may stretch back generations. Our ancestors contributed much to who we have become.  Our individual chemical/biological make-up is a factor, as is as is the nurturing from relatives, teachers, friends and the wide, world itself that we encounter along the journey of our maturing.  What we make of it and what legacy we may leave behind is firmly within our grasps….let us make proud our heritage.  We stand on the shoulders of others to become who we are today…and, likewise, others will stand on our shoulders…let us ROAR!

    This is an epic story of three generations of gay men in NYC beginning in 2015 and ending, in Part I, in 2017.  The saga continues in Part II from June 1st to 17th.  It is inspired by E. M. Forster’s, Howard’s End.  It begins with Eric (James Sharinghousen), a political activist, with his boyfriend, Toby (Michael Teufel) and what happens when a stranger, Adam (Brave Sohacki) enter their lives, uprooting them and catapulting them into different directions.

    This whole endeavor is orchestrated by these three, et. al., by E. M. Forster himself (Gary Powell), who this group has called upon to help them tell their story.  Toby is an aspiring writer and wants to write the “great, American novel,” but is persuaded to make it into a play about his own life, which is forthcoming.

    And Adam, being an aspiring actor, jockeys to play the lead.  Among others in this menagerie of souls is Eric’s boss, the very serious, Jasper (Adam John Roper) and his lover, Tristan (Eric Zulu).  There are also the rather amusing Jason's, two lovers with the same first names (Tanner Huff &Julio Cesar Velazquez).  There are also some rich friends of theirs, a developer, the reclusive Henry (Gary Wayne Cash) and his shy lover, Walter (Gary Norman).  Henry also has two rather obnoxious sons, Charles (Kimo Camat) and Paul (Roper, again).  And other characters yet to be fleshed out, Peter (Matthew Sunderland) and Dylan Hankins.  There stories and relationships are complicated, varied and, also, full of surprises, which need to be viewed, not summarized.

    I’ve review Sharinghousen before and he is also an asset to any production, as he is here.  His character is both charming and maddening, at times, but very human.  Teufel is terrific as the tortured playwright, trying to exorcise his demons without ever facing them. Sohacki is seemingly disarming as the naïve (or not) snake-in-the-grass that slithers into their hearts and destroys their idyllic garden.  Powell is an ole pro of Portland stages (I even acted with him myself once) and is perfect playing the grand architect, Forster, of this extravaganza.  But I was blown away by Norman, as Walter, who has this amazing long, poignant  monologue of his awkward childhood and his touching gift that he gives to those with Aids…a tour de force…Bravo!

    Alcala has done a super job of telling this story in a stylized way, much of the time, and pacing his actors between tension and tenderness.  And Horn has, once again, educated and entertained us with his choice of material….and after 33 years, my hat’s off to you!  A word about the setting and style:  It is an essentially bare stage with allthe actors mostly in view much of the time.  A lot like Pirandello’s, Six Characters in Search of an Author;  Chekov/Simon’s, The Good Doctor; Marat/Sade; and even, the film, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm, in which the characters, yet to be realized, have a say in their own development.  I love this style of theatre because, in part, it allows the audience to view the artistic process close up.

    It should be noted, this is R rated for subject matter and language.  I highly recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.



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