Brooke Totman

‘Cat Patrol’ review: hot tuna

New comedy sketch series in new Portland theater space has great human appeal, but needs more rodents

by CS ELIOT

Hello. CS Eliot here with my purr-ceptions of the sketch comedy show, Cat Patrol, playing one more time Friday at Portland’s new Ape Theater.

At least they call it comedy. To me, it was episode after episode humans talking, no birds or scurrying rodents to hold my attention — and a couple of moments of unrelenting horror! It just needed one thing: me.

Totman, Little Edith and Jessup in ‘Cat Patrol.’ Photo: Alicia J. Rose.

Alissa Jessup, Chris Caniglia along with Brooke Totman moved The Ape Theater into the basement of Portland’s Alberta Abbey on June 1, this year. They turned the basement into a 30-seat black box theater in less than three months. Jessup and Caniglia met in New York, moved to Los Angeles and now call Portland home. Totman, an Oregonian born in Roseburg, moved to LA and now also lives in Portland. All three are accomplished artists in TV, stage, scriptwriting, improv and comedy.

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Web series “The Benefits of Gusbandry” hits the big screen

Creators Alicia J. Rose and Courtenay Hameister talk about their raunchy, heartfelt, weed-infused online hit and its upcoming season finale

Portland filmmaker Alicia J. Rose has been drawing raves for her web series “The Benefits of Gusbandry,” and after watching the first five episodes it’s clear why. This topical but raunchy comedy follows the (mis)adventures of straight Jackie (Brooke Totman), who’s just turned forty, and her burgeoning best-friendship with gay River (Kurt Conryod).

Rose based the series on her own relationships with various ‘gusbands.’ People have compared the show to a certain 1990’s NBC sitcom, but, as Rose says, “unlike ‘Will & Grace,’ this show isn’t about people trying to find romantic partners. It’s about people who’ve found each other.” It also has a lot more pot smoking. And, frankly, it’s funnier.

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Theater review: ‘Detroit’ gets down to particular cases

Lisa D'Amour's fine play about two suburban couples gets a well-acted production from Portland Playhouse

Brooke Totman toasts the company in "Detroit" at Portland Playhouse.

Brooke Totman toasts the company in “Detroit” at Portland Playhouse.

Pretty quickly in Lisa D’Amour’s “Detroit,” now playing at Portland Playhouse, the lay of the land becomes apparent. Frank and Mary live in an old suburb of some unnamed city (Detroit itself never gets a shoutout). Mary’s a paralegal who is developing a taste for expensive food, and Ben is starting a financial advice service with the severance he received from his old job at the bank. Life could be better.

As the play begins, they are getting together for a backyard cook-out with Kenny and Sharon, who just moved in next door but occupy a lower rung on the economic ladder. Sharon works at a call center, and Kenny’s a warehouseman. They’ve only managed to crash this neighborhood because they are living in Kenny’s great-aunt’s house. Or something like that. Life could be a whole lot better.

They live on Sunshine Way, close to Ultraviolet Lane and Fluorescent Avenue.

Ben and Mary, Kenny and Sharon. No one is special, and nothing all that special happens to them in the course of the play, well, except for the odd catastrophe, and even that’s no big deal. Nobody symbolizes anything, no one is a stock character, nothing much happens, the politics of it are in deep subtext (if they are there at all), the conflicts are mostly inner ones, though sometimes couples do disagree. And yet “Detroit” is mesmerizing, maybe because we so seldom see people like this. The genius of D’Amour in “Detroit” is how particular her characters are, and how true that particularity seems to us. The strength of this production is the ability of its cast to deliver those characters clearly, despite their inevitable complexity.

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