Friday, Jun 23, 2017

Category: OSF 2010

Ruined (2010)

Photo by Jenny Graham

Before I saw Ruined last week at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I was dreading it. I felt like a kid staring at a pile of vegetables – it’s supposed to be good for me, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Immediately after seeing it, mostly I was shell shocked. With a little bit of time to reflect, I have to modify my preconception before broadcasting it: Ruined is good for you, and you absolutely must see it. If you have older children, double that – it’s imperative that they see it. This isn’t because it’s so good that it outweighs the nasty feeling of swallowing it. No, Ruined goes down well, powerfully delivering its message while still leaving you with hope for the goodness of mankind.


Well (2010)

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

The presence of Well on this year’s roster of Oregon Shakespeare Festival productions signals in no uncertain terms that the Festival is going to remain committed to presenting remarkable new work alongside the usual buffet of surefire crowd pleasers. Presented in the New Theatre under the direction of James Edmondson,Well also shows that organizers are getting better at finding forward-looking plays that can still appeal to Festival audiences for four months: it is vigorous and thought-provoking, emotional without being treacly, and it provides a gorgeous showcase for several Company stalwarts.


Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (2010)

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

You know you’ve seen something special when Company members are snuffling emotionally in the row behind you. The stereotype of comedians is for them to nod at another comedian’s act and say “that was funny” without actually laughing. I’ve seen actors leave a powerful, moving show giving high fives and chatting excitedly about the performances. So, the fact that the cast of this year’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof got to their fellow actors should tell you a lot.

The play is largely a character-driven piece – there’s a plot, but the external story doesn’t actually move much and the play is essentially in real-time. Maggie (a sublime Stephanie Beatriz) comes from a hard-scrabble childhood but is now married to Brick (the what’s-left-to-say Danforth Comins), a drunken, washed-up athlete who has forsworn a budding career as a television sports announcer in favor of the bottle; Brick is the favorite son of a wealthy plantation owner who may or may not be dying soon. The action, then, revolves around the machinations of Big Daddy’s sons (Brick and his brother Gooper, the latter played with quiet frustration by Rex Young) and their wives (Maggie and Mae, respectively, the latter played by Kate Mulligan with scene-stealing brio) to secure the prime inheritance share from their father. When they aren’t digging at each other, they mostly turn on themselves.


Pride and Prejudice (2010)

Photo by Jenny Graham

Photo by Jenny Graham

Pride and Prejudice is the cure for what ails you. A sunny, unabashedly romantic production, it shines on the Angus Bowmer stage with polished acting and production values that will keep you entertained throughout. This isn’t a piece to make you question the nature of etc etc… It’s a straight-forward entertainment that succeeds admirably in its goals. One might quibble at the hurried pace it keeps through the opening scenes, but overall it holds together quite well.