Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Am My Own Wife

Portland Center Stage
Reviewed by Followspot November 21, 2006; closes December 31, 2006

Technically masterful delivery of knotty biography in PCS’ new straight-forward, comfortable studio. Sold-out Tuesday-night audience gave standing ovation; for me, engaging, without pushing my buttons as expected, wanted. Is it because playwright injects himself among crooks and crannies of multifarious character that offers enough interesting red herrings of her own?

7 comments:

Brian said...

Well, I've only lived in Portland for about three months, but this was probably the best show I've seen. It was in a par with the productions I was seeing in New York before I left.

Wade McCollum was marvellous, and the production qualities were fantastic, and the studio space was really lovely.

Great show. Don't miss it.

Anonymous said...

This production didn't quite work for me, even though I loved the NYC production with Jefferson Mays. I think McCollum--whom I very, very highly admire--wasn't quite right for this one, which surprised me, because I thought for SURE he would be the perfect actor for the part.

I find it interesting to think he may have been miscast. He certainly SEEMED to be the obvious choice. Maybe too obvious? There may be an interesting discussion in here, somewhere, about the casting process, and possible missed opportunities that make the difference between a very good show--good enough to garner tremendous praise and please audiences, for the most part--and a show that truly soars, as picky a distinction as that may be.

Of course, I'd probably cast McCollum as Willy Loman, just to see what he did with it and make a ton of money from the audiences who'd inevitably love him, if I were producing. So, I'm definitely a livingroom quarter back on this one, without MY theater on the line.

Anonymous said...

Excellent production, terrific acting. I'm not convinced by the show as written, however. Several times I felt the mechanics of playwriting jerking me one way or another -- oops, intermission coming up, better inject a cliffhanging poke like the Stasi file issue HERE; hmm, need a solution to my mixed feelings about the lead character, oh, here's a fine metaphorical remark back on tape 8 -- so that it felt less than organic, and more like a strong essay brought to life by a fine, hardworking actor. Maybe I'm getting a little tired of one-person plays . . . or one-person plays in which the person plays multiple characters . . . or one-MAN plays, since I've seen a lot of those, but not too many one-woman shows, aside from "The Belle of Amherst" and "Miss Margarida's Way" (which I adore). Someone write more of those, please.

Only one quibble with McCollum, who was terrific, and about whose apparently impending departure one has mixed feelings (less competition for the top local actors! but we won't be seeing him anymore!); he viciously bit and spat the final consonant in various sentences, which would have worked with one character, such as Charlotta himself, but I heard it with several, and it really wasn't necessary in that intimate space.

We got an extra premium with Tuesday night's show: a flashy, May-December couple Wade had to admonish, in character, a couple times in the first half, who were escorted out by security after they returned to their seats toward the end of the intermission. As they were leaving, I heard the bald gentleman in the expensive suit mutter to the tiny blonde in the short skirt and tall red heels, "You did this." I've never seen THAT before. . . .

Anonymous said...

Wade had to admonish, in character, a couple times in the first half

One of his strengths is reading and playing the audience, but it is also one of his weaknesses. He can rif on and with an audience (Hedwig), but he can also play too much and stray too from the original show (Hedwig). He seems to feed heavily off of an audience, and sometimes the love affair can get messy.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting comments.

I came away thinking that perhaps this character was wackier and wilder in the eyes of the American playwright than she was to fellow Germans.

It felt like she was being made as exotic as possible, perhaps out of cultural context of Berlin.

Also, the way the playwright hauled back random chunks of German felt a little touristic - like when you go to a foreign country and want to bring back a t-shirt bedecked with local lingo as a gew gaw. It doesn't matter what it means.

Overall, the play did not work for me, though I do like McCollum and thought he was great.

However, apparently like others, every time I see him I do wonder about that next GREAT role I would like to see him in. Not the one that is comfortable or a natural for him (Hedwig, this), but one that would test his ability to the limit.

Go for it!

Anonymous said...

can we do better in Portland. actor talented.....production boring......too much spitting...audience I felt thought they should like it.....I was bored.

Anonymous said...

I agree with those who said it didn't work for them. I felt I should like it but I didn't. The actor was ambitious and talented but it left me tired....a bit pretentious and I think the audience felt that they should like it and if they didn't they were uncultured.