Theater (183)

A handful of memories — Elizabeth Peavey stays connected in one-woman show 'My Mother's Clothes Are Not My Mother'

In what we now think of as the “Mad Men” era, Shirley Peavey was a fashion plate. Shirley’s cocktail gowns and mohair sweaters “advertised her good taste,” explains her daughter, longtime local writer Elizabeth Peavey, and became symbolic — even sacred — in her conception of her mother. And so when Shirley passes away, how can Peavey let these clothes go? Easing her way through her mother’s closet and her own memory, Peavey muses on life, death, grief, and the…

Social justice storytelling — Portland writer/mom Kari Wagner-Peck's 'Not Always Happy'

Thorin takes cool Warhol-like photographs of Life Cereal, lays down the law as the fashion police, and is constantly asked by strangers for hugs. He’s also a kid with Down syndrome. The adventure of adopting and raising Thorin is the poignant and refreshingly funny heart of Not Always Happy, a live storytelling performance written and performed by his mom, local writer Kari Wagner-Peck. Her one-woman show runs for one week only as part of the Portland Stage Studio Series, under…

Inspect this! — Good Theater's absorbing mystery classic 'An Inspector Calls'

When Inspector Goole (James Noel Hoban) interrupts a small party at the upper-class Birling home, everyone is certain they have nothing to do with the horrible death he’s investigating. But Inspector Goole has ways of making people talk, and everyone in the Birling home, as it turns out, has something to say, in An Inspector Calls, the British writer’s J. B. Priestley’s classic 1946 mystery. Brian P. Allen directs a taut, stylish, gripping Good Theater production of this much-laureled thriller-cum-social-critique at the St. Lawrence Arts Center.…

Learning to Brace Yourself — Butler and company soar in 'Complications From a Fall'

Elizabeth (Maureen Butler) could keep a library of just one book, Middlemarch, she half-jokes, because she reads it over and over, but never remembers the ending. She suffers from dementia, and her present is often lost to her. Elilzabeth’s own past she remembers clearly — but only now, after a bad fall makes her even more dependent, does one of her children think to ask her to tell it. In Kate Hawley’s comedic drama Complications From A Fall, directed by Paul…

Draw the circle — Pie Man Theater Company plays with concepts of Hell

The walls are a bland institutional off-white. Upstage, they narrow at a door that locks from the outside. There are no mirrors here, or windows, or toothbrushes. The furniture is unpleasing and the people are trying. This is hell, literally, and it’s the setting for two one-act plays staged by Pie Man Theatre Company: Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit (wherein Sartre conveys his famous verdict that hell is “other people”), and playwright/actor Josh Brassard’s original riff on it, Hell Is, in which…

The Theater Project's exposes the beams in Lisa D'Amour's 'Detroit'

Even though neither couple’s suburban “starter home” is new, both houses feel somehow unfinished. You can see the seams in the sheetrock. Some newer construction is of bare lumber, not cut square. Even fully built parts of these houses feel low-fi, ersatz, or made of failing materials. The sliding door sticks. The lawn is a postage-stamp of turf. In the backyards of these two adjacent houses, two couples face vertiginous insecurity in the trajectory of middle-class American…

Consider 'Sex With Strangers' — Good Theater mounts a fine one

The Good Theater’s season opener is called Sex With Strangers, but don’t get the wrong kind of excited: the real intercourse behind the title is the one that happens when writers share their intimately crafted extensions of self with an anonymous, indifferent world of readers. Or, as director Steve Underwood more pithily puts it, Sex With Strangers, by Laura Eason (a writer on the Emmy-winning House of Cards) is “a play about that little old industry that…

Is it all just a game? — USM's 'Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom' peers into a possible future

As players in dark hoodies skulk through the digitally rendered suburbs, a voice intones instructions: Drink the chocolate milk. Break the lawn gnome with a hammer. Recall that “the goal during daytime is to blend in.” But as you might suspect, this game the teens are playing is not what it seems. “Ha, that sounds like something out of a horror movie,” sasses one of the teen gamers, and how right she it. In Neighborhood 3:…

Street Theater — Snowlion's 'Anything Helps God Bless' reckons with homelessness in Portland

Two street signs onstage read “Preble” and “Marginal.” A triptych of back panels presentsimages of the city intersection, and on the stage floor are the sort of concrete medians that became, not long ago, contentious territory in Portland. The stage is set to explore what Snowlion Repertory Company calls the “median strip controversy” of 2012-15, when the city attempted to ban activity — namely, panhandling, or “signing” — in the medians. After a workshop production last December, the full production of Anything Helps…

Born for a Storm — Mad Horse's 'Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson' sends up populist rage

He’s running against the elites, the establishment, and anyone other than real Americans trying to take up space in America. He cusses, shoots from the hip, refers during speeches to the length and girth of his penis, and riles supporters up about their own victimhood. Sound like any campaigns that have recently made us bleed from our ears and eyes? But hold on, because this is the story of Andrew Jackson: populist rabble-rouser and genocidal founder of…
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