Tuesday, September 10, 2019

“Is God Is” channels mythology

Maya Burton and Kamaria Hallums-Harris in Is God Is (Chris Bennion)
Is God Is
Washington Ensemble Theatre and The Hansberry Project
Through September 23, 2019

It’s not likely that playwright Aleshea Harris is that familiar with local Book-It Repertory Theatre, but her dialogue-as-narration in her play, Is God Is, is strikingly like the “Book-It style” we’ve gotten used to. Twin sisters Racine (‘Cine) and Anaia (‘Naia) describe each other to the audience as they discuss a letter that has arrived from God. It’s from their mother, who they believed was dead, and from whom they have not heard for at least 18 years!

They describe their lives growing up in horrific-sounding foster care as they try to cope with the sudden news that their mother wants to see them. They speak of her as God because she “made” them, so therefore, they are beholden to her in the way they’d be to God.

They determine they need to go see her. The letter comes from a rest home in “Oscarville, MS/AL/FL/TX/TN/AR/KY, Dirty South” followed by a zip code so long that you lose track of the numbers. This helps put the journey on track to be “mythic” in nature. Outside of or bigger than real life.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Atmospheric “Bulrusher” is enjoyable, a little long

Allyson Lee Brown and Ayo Tushinda in Bulrusher (Naomi Ishisaka)

Intiman Theatre
(at Jones Playhouse)
Through September 14, 2019

Eisa Davis’ play, Bulrusher, presented by Intiman Theatre and directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton, is steeped - like black tea - in atmosphere. Infused with music and poetic dialogue, there is a measured pace, enough time to consider things. Set in a northern California townlet, Boonville, everyone there knows everyone else and most of the folks in the small nearby towns as well.

Boonville even has its own language, Boontling, that is a real dialect they all made up together in the 1800s. But you don’t really have to “harp the lingo” to understand what’s being said when they use those terms. It’s pretty clear what anyone is saying.

The play’s main subject area is race and how the town handles it. Boonville, as set in the mid-1950s, apparently was not nearly as segregated as much of the rest of the United States. Black residents did not have to use a back door and could buy things at local establishments. The play’s namesake and main character is a mixed race 18 year old girl who didn’t know she was “black” until she was 5, says Logger (Reginal Andre Jackson), when he told her she was.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

September “Back to Stage” Edition!

A moment from Blood Water Paint (Joe Iano)
September means “back to theater” as many companies launch their new seasons. There are some very exciting world premieres and major productions happening this month. Options abound for young children to old young-at-hearts! Check out this great list and mark your calendars!

My Son The Waiter – A Jewish Tragedy, Kirkland Performance Center, 9/5-29/19
Actor/comedian Brad Zimmerman’s story about the grit and passion required to ‘make it’ as an artist and the sweet rewards that come from never giving up on your dream. Specifically, Brad moved to New York City and “temporarily” waited tables for 29 years, while continuing to pursue his dream of comedic acting.

People of the Book, ACT Theatre, 9/6-29/19 (world premiere)
Playwright Yussef El Guindi’s new play mixes lust, jealousy, and post-traumatic stress bringing things between old friends to a boil. Jason is a veteran of the Iraq War who returns home to literary glory after writing an international best-seller, a heroic account of his wartime experience. His celebrity is underscored by his marriage to Madeeha, an Iraqi woman he saved in a house-to-house raid. When he reunites with old friends, Amir and Lynn, questions start to emerge about the veracity of the book and its particular patriotic American gaze.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Spoofing "Tomb Raider" is Hella Fun!

Raiha and Roundhill singing (Marcia Davis)
Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark 
The Habit
(at the Bathhouse)
through September 28, 2019

If you like farce and bad jokes and good jokes and spoofing innie jokes and physical comedy - all on the theme of Indiana Jones movies, look no further than The Habit's newest show: Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Last Temple of the Doomed Ark. Casey Raiha as Indy and his side kick Marion (Helen Roundhill) - the woman he hates to love or who hates to love him or who loves to hate him or he loves to hate - brandish whips and climb mountains and battle nefarious Mark Siano characters with different accents. And they sing, too!

With help from onstage musicians and a cast of comic actors that are 150% serious about their comedy, this production goes great with generous libations and hot summer days and nights.

The Habit is known for their spoofy comedies. If you've seen them before, you know just what you're in for. If not, try mixing in The Sound of Music and other non-sequiturs to guess at while you laugh.

Kudos to Robin Macartney for pulling off inventive props for the show that have to hit their marks when the lights hit them! Costuming from Valerie Snyder is spot-on, too.

For more information, go to https://www.seattlepublictheater.org/indy-jones. Some shows may be sold out. Check for waitlist information.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Honoring Black Male Sexuality with "Black D*ck Matters"

Black D*ck Matters
Brownbox Theatre
(at Gay City)
August 22/24, 2019

I had the honor of seeing and hearing this provocative evening that it seems that no one besides playwright/poet Kathya Alexander has seen fit to write about. Her inspiration was a personal video a friend showed her that was pornographic in content, but it also celebrated black men and their sexuality.

Alexander decided to write a play "about" black male sexuality. It turned into this evening of a string of pieces, some very poetic, some more pornographic, all focused on holding up black men to honor and recognize as whole people.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Only Three More Days to See Unique "Peeling"!

The women of Peeling (Ken Holmes)
Sound Theatre Company
Through August 24, 2019

“Three disabled actors walk into a play…” A unique production, both in style and substance, is being produced by Sound Theatre Company. Peeling, by Kaite O’Reilly, a playwright known for her focus on and inclusion of disabilities, uses a play-within-a-play structure to introduce us to the Chorus.

The first noticing an audience sees are three mounds of fabric fixed on stage. Differently colored and layered, they appear somewhat like beehives. Then, as a vocal announcement and written projection demands that they appear for the start of the play, three actors appear and climb inside the mounds which become the belled bottoms of great gowns.

The women are all disabled in different aspects: Alfa (Michelle Mary Schaefer) is deaf, Coral (Carolyn Agee) uses a wheelchair and Beaty’s (Sydney Maltese) aspect is one that may not be visible beyond her short stature.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sara Porkalob writes a play with Café Nordo

The cast of 7th and Jackson (Dangerpants Photography)
7th and Jackson
Café Nordo
Through August 11, 2019

Although I’m reporting about the unique and well-executed show, 7th and Jackson, after the fact, which means you can’t attend and experience it yourself anymore, I can encourage you to attend other unique and well-executed programming at Café Nordo in the future. I can also encourage you to watch for and attend other events starring and/or written by uber-talented Sara Porkalob.

7th and Jackson is a newer venture for Ms. Porkalob, whose writing has most deeply been for her solo performances and digging into her own family’s extraordinary past. Best known for Dragon Lady, where she tells her grandmother’s story about being a Filipino gangster, Porkalob has extended that story to Dragon Mama, and soon to Dragon Baby, wending her way down the generations to her own beginnings. 

Friday, August 09, 2019

“Salty” – Also Sweet

David Hogan and Tony Magana Jr. in Salty (David Hseih)
ReAct Theatre
(at 12th Avenue Arts)
Through August 18, 2019

Have you ever tried to imagine some -oh – forty, sixty years from now when global warning has really taken firm hold? What animal species will be extinct? How will we be living? I’ll bet our diets will be very different because certain foods will be unable to be grown. Still, anyone living then will get up in the morning, go to some work or other, and come home to their family.

AJ Clauss did some imagining and wrote a play, Salty (produced by ReAct Theatre), that focuses on penguins and the humans who take care of them. The penguins are all in a zoo and they are pretty much the last ones left in the world, kept in a special enclosure at the right cold temperature. The cast doubles as the zookeepers who take care of them. Clauss calls it a ‘grim but hopeful look at the future.”

Clauss’ play is not at all hyperbolic or scoldy. It’s a lyrical and understated, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant reverie on relationships. Some of the relationships are between penguins and some are between people and some are between people at the zoo and their penguin wards.

In a strange way, you could think of it as a slice-of-life play. And there’s a bit of science thrown in there, as well.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

August Theater Openings Will Wake You Up!

David Hogan and Tony Magana Jr.in Salty by ReAct Theatre (David Hseih)
There are some STUPENDOUS productions opening in August. Thought it was a sleepy month? Not in Seattle. Check out the interesting, ground-breaking and thought-provoking stuff you can see.

Salty, ReAct Theatre, 8/1-18/19 (at 12th Avenue Arts)
The future: at one of the last surviving zoos. Mother Nature is on her way out and She be SALTY! Meet an unforgettable pride of queer penguins and their human zookeeper counterparts as they all struggle to find love and belonging in an ever-destructive world.

The Neverborn, Annex Theatre, 8/2-31/19 (world premiere)
The unique Kelleen Conway Blanchard brings us a 1930s Dustbowl era world only somewhat like our own. Two orphaned sisters, Lotte and Bettina Black, murder the Matron at the Starling Home for Feeble Minded children and set out to find their–probably not dead–mother. Soon they are pursued by a tormented detective, a gifted Reverend’s son, and a vengeful haunted baby painting. (Annex has a/c now!)