In Play Reviews

Picture the greater Portland theatre scene as a duck on a pond. Placidly, said duck glides across the pond barely causing a ripple. Underwater, those little duck feet are paddling like crazy. In our new world, virtual events pop up here and there, but there’s a whole lot more going on. Here’s a sampling:

Third Rail Repertory Theatre debuted the first iteration of Home/Place, a Company Innovation project devised with a group of talented theatremakers. Led by company member Jennifer Lin, Home/Place is an image-driven response to three prompts: the home I was born to, the road I traveled, and the home I made. Blending photographs, graphic art, and fragments of personal stories, it evokes a variety of experiences about home, place, landscape, and identity. It is woven from the things we share with each other when we are finally asked to do so: an old family photo, a story from a four-year-old, a song, a memory from abroad, a portrait of joy, an imprint of loss, a view out the window of a car. It is a celebration, or perhaps a critique, or perhaps both, of the people and places we call home. Home/Place is presented live on Zoom. Tickets may be purchased at for performances Saturday, August 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, August 23, 2 p.m.

James Luster and Marcella Laasch in Black Box.

CoHo Productions continues its virtual run of Black Box based on the novel of the same title by Gary Cole. Set largely in Portland, Black Box is a suspenseful story of players, on stage and off, making deals to save or sell their souls. Several actresses, a critic, and a patron form a set of dramatic triangles as their ambitions collide within the confines of a black box theatre. The scenes that will be performed during the run portray the increasingly intimate relationship between Karin (Marcella Laasch), an actress turned socialite who decides to make a return to the stage, and the younger Ned (James Luster), a privileged writer who is forced to take a job as a theater critic after the mysterious death of his father. Videography is by Robert Randall.

The virtual run will continue until Portland theaters have fully reopened and plays can be staged without restrictions. Funds raised from this campaign provide direct relief for local arts and cultural organizations through the Oregon Arts and Cultural Recovery Program, established by the Oregon Community Foundation. Tickets are available at the CoHo website.

Slated for live streaming September 11-13 is From These Streets I Rise.  Created by Mikki Jordan, directed by Chris Harder, with original music by Samie Jo Pfiefer, the program honors the diverse stories and immediate experiences of Portland Street Roots’ vendors impacted by homelessness. Weaving together stories and live music, one actress shifts seamlessly through multiple characters, taking us on a unique journey that reminds us of the power of community and the resilience of the human spirit. Seventy percent of ticket sales benefit Portland Street Roots.

Portland Center Stage has been recalibrating, re-imagining, and rising boldly to present PCS Remix, a groundbreaking initiative that offers artistic brilliance, civic enrichment, and (as soon as it’s safe to gather) eight exhilarating theater productions.

PCS Remix programming includes shows, commissions, original works, play readings, community partnerships, classes, and youth and school programs designed to connect audiences with artists and cultural leaders in a variety of formats, including virtual and in-person. With that in mind, PCS has transformed its rehearsal hall into a recording studio suitable for socially distanced video production, and will also offer this space as a resource for local community partners.

PCS Remix breaks out of the structure of a traditional theatre season to offer security and flexibility to patrons with nimble programming designed to build stronger connections with both the amazing artists creating work and the theater itself.

“Even in this incredibly unknown time, there is an abundance of beautiful, impactful work we can create with the talented artists in our community and beyond,” Artistic Director Marissa Wolf said. “When we’re able to gather again, I will be overjoyed to welcome audiences back to The Armory for the buoyant lineup of shows, and until that time, we’re excited  to connect with audiences virtually, generating a wellspring of engaging theatrical offerings.”

PCS Remix includes seven of the plays that were previously announced: Frida … A Self Portrait, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, Emma, the world premiere of Young Americans, Hair, and the return of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Added to the lineup is the return of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, after its original run was cut short due to COVID cancelations. The dates and order of shows will be announced as soon as it’s possible to gather.

Banner photo from Profile Theatre’s production of Paula Vogel’s Baltimore Waltz featuring Jen Rose and David Kitrosser. David Kinder photo.






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