In Play Reviews

Forty floors. Five hundred apartments. Seven hundred residents, give or take. All the amenities….

Nathan Crosby and Blake Stone in Complex. SleeperStudios photo.

Somewhere in the bowels of this fancy, big city high-rise, in an inauspicious laundry room, Jeffrey (Nathan Crosby) ritualistically folds his underwear–a tidy little flag fold with a cute tuck at the end–while Todd (Blake Stone) waits for the dryer. Both men are nervous. Something happened in the laundry room.

Welcome to the world premiere of Dominic Finocchiaro‘s Complex.¬†Directed by Connery MacRae, the play is onstage at Theatre Vertigo through October 26. It’s the Halloween play of the season.

Clara Liis-Hillier and Kaia Maarja Hillier in Complex at Theatre Vertigo. Photo by SleeperStudios.

Although we only meet eight of the 700 souls living in the complex, one gets the impression that things trend a little south of normal here. Dieter (Clifton Holznagel) and Zooey (Alanna Archibald) vape and gossip in the rec room. Trish (Clara-Liis Hillier) and Tina (Caia Maarja Hillier) enjoy drinks and gossip there. Gabe (Ajai Tripathi) works in security, and Francine (Eve Johnstone) is a treadmill junkie.

When people start getting murdered, it’s the not-so-intrepid Todd who steps up to solve the mystery. He suspects everyone in the building, of course, but most of all the mild-mannered Jeffrey.

For the Halloween season, the play has everything–strange noises, suspicious characters, blood and guts, and great gooey gobs of dark humor. There’s even a romance.

There’s a darker message as well. In a building with 500 units, does anyone really know anyone else? In the event of a cannibal holocaust, would anyone help anyone? In in our society, cut off from each other as we are by circumstance, sterile living environments, and technology, is it possible to have real neighbors? Is it possible to find love?

Clifton Holznagel in Complex. Photo by SleeperStudios.

Complex is weird, haunting, funny, and thought-provoking. Its production team includes Molly Shevaun Reed, stage manager; Nina Schiefelbein, assistant stage manager; Trent Alexz Eccles, lighting design; Connery MacRae, director and scenic design; Kimberly Smay, costume design; Cameron McFee, sound design; Meg Slaughter, assistant sound design; Alan Cline, video design; Molly Gardner, technical director; Heath Hyun Houghton and London Bauman, production managers.

The play runs through October 26 at the Shoebox Theatre venue, 2110 SE 10th Avenue, Portland, 97214.

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