Portland Center Stage
February 28, 2005
Downsizing to Armory next year will hopefully help PCS stop grasping at straws and finally identify its niche, rather than sometimes seeming cheap, ill-conceived. Piquing my curiosity at present, though, is the number of co-productions: A throwback to days of circuit theatres? And with what effect on local arts scene?
Underneath the Lintel
“A librarian’s personal obsession with miscreant who returned a book 123 years overdue leads to profound discoveries of cosmic significance.” The premise sounds quite clever and catchy, but one-person shows very rarely constitute “theater” to me. (Sigh.) Seems sad that the biggest game in town always has the fewest players.
Pride and Prejudice
“The trials and tribulations of the sisters’ relationships unfold in witty bantering, near social ruin and delicious comeuppances.” A good costume drama like this seems smartly tailored for both frumpy PCS and poofy Newmark. PNP will likely do well provided material is respected and not rewoven somewhere like NYC 9/10/01.
This Wonderful Life
“Solo performance of one of the most beloved holiday classics, It’s A Wonderful Life.” I understand performer Mark Setlock was quite entertaining in last year’s PCS production of Fully Committed. But another one-man holiday show? Rehashing a story everyone else but me already seems to hate? Where am I? Harvey’s?
“Sunny, funny musical about love that has lasting value.” Despite drippy sentimentality, this sweet-and-sour, sometimes stinging love story is now almost edgy. The trick to magically alluring tale, incredible score is to understand original slight-of-hand. I fear cutouts falling flat and echoing in Newmark vastness. This should play in Winningstad.
Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow
“With the help of a pizza delivery guy and a Mormon chat room Internet buddy, [‘brilliant young agoraphobe’] faces her fears and seeks her [‘Chinese birth mother’] through … a flying robot alter ego.” Unusual set-up, but too early to tell if this risk will be genius … or garbage.
“Based on photographer Michael Cunningham and journalist Craig Mayberry’s acclaimed Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats. … Young woman from Brooklyn is sent to live with her grandmother in South Carolina after her brother is shot.” Touching evening for at least PCS old-line West-side blue-hair … maybe more.
“In this brilliant and free-ranging epic, Itamar Moses (Outrage) imagines what might have transpired in the one hour a day prisoners [Kaczynski, Mcveigh, Felipe, Ramzi] were allowed access to each other.” Based on playwright alone, huge potential to be funny, disturbing, heady and provocative — if unlocked by director Chris Coleman.