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Theater cranks up the volume to 11

By Barry Johnson
December 5, 2013
News & Notes, Theater

This fall, I’ve been having a hard time figuring out the rhythms of theater and dance seasons. This week I think I figured it out. There isn’t a rhythm: It’s a gushing fire hydrant of performance goodness that I approach with a little cup in hand, knowing I’m going to catch only a bit of it. Or maybe I just dive into it face first and it knocks me down and washes out my eyeballs. OK, enough of this particular metaphor!

But this weekend, there’s SO much new stuff opening that the archivist in me wants to list it for you. Maybe that will help you figure out where to place your own cup, sure, but it’s really just the completist in me.

Now, ArtsWatch has already previewed a couple of prime examples.


Imago opens Harold Pinter's "The Lover" tonight/Imago Theatre

Imago opens Harold Pinter’s “The Lover” tonight/Imago Theatre

Bob Hicks talked to Imago’s Jerry Mouawad about his new production of Harold Pinter’s one-act, “The Lover,” which opens tonight, and Imago doing Pinter is a juicy prospect.

Besides stating for the record that “The Lover” has a man and a wife, and the wife has a lover and the husband might, too, I don’t want to get into the plot: it’s far better for you to discover it for yourself. Simply know that Mouawad considers the play to be in “game-playing mode, continual friction,” and he’s come to think of it as “in a way, a celebration of marriage.”

And AL Adams sat down with Mizu Desierto to discuss her mall-rat Butoh “American ME” at the Headwaters Theatre. Here’s Desierto talking about the show:

“A lot of the material that came out of us was a way for us to open and express our own personal relationships with cultural values around competition, self-absorption, power, money, indulgence and freedom. Of course, none of these things are black or white. We each became immersed in the complexity and contradiction of our individual and collective identities. For example, if you take the simple concept of freedom – we played with both its beauty and its perversions.”

OK, two more non-holiday related openings. Well, “The Lion in Winter” IS set over the Christmas of 1183.

Northwest Classical Theatre Company leans toward Shakespeare a lot of the time, and though James Goldman’s play isn’t quite Shakespeare, its witty treatment of the unraveling marriage between Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine is practically Bard-like in its complexity and panache. Also its insults. (“She’s like a democratic drawbridge: She goes down for anybody.”) The show stars Victor Mack as Henry and Marilyn Stacey as Eleanor, and that is a splendid place to start. It opens tonight.

The first time I saw “Noises Off,” I was gobsmacked by the brilliance of Michael Frayn’s farce. The second time, I wasn’t quite as impressed, and the film version left me cold. So when Third Rail Rep announced its production, I was a little dubious. But you know what? The more I think about that script, the more interesting it seems to me AND Third Rail is eminently capable of the crisp timing and breakneck tempo needed to bring out its best qualities. So yes, sign me up.

And now, on to a few holiday nuggets:

So far, we haven’t had a straight ahead version of “A Christmas Carol” yet, but Portland Playhouse rectifies that this weekend with a new adaptation by Rick Lombardo that “highlights the classic ghost story which invokes the beauty of second chances.” Well said! I like the idea of a neighborhood theater like Portland Playhouse doing this show for the families nearby.

The 19th annual Portland Revels holiday celebration is called “Christmas in Old Europe”, set in a medieval winter solstice show and Mummers’ competition that provides a theatrical framework for music by Portland Brass Quintet, Vagabond Opera founder/singer/accordionist Eric Stern, audience participation segments, and much more.

And Action/Adventure Theatre is doing “A VERY SPECIAL ACTION/ADVENTURE HOLIDAY THING!” So far, the press materials are light on details, but I fully expect this to be something I never could have imagined except in dreams my subconscious has imprisoned so I can continue to function during such societal stresses as the holiday season. Uh-oh.

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