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Review: ALEX GETTING BETTER at Oregon Children's Theatre

The production is available to stream through May 31.

Review: ALEX GETTING BETTER at Oregon Children's Theatre

As I reflect on all of the digital theatre I've streamed during the pandemic, ALEX GETTING BETTER, now available from the Oregon Children's Theatre's Young Professionals Company, is the one that has impressed me most.

Audrey Lang's play about dealing with the lasting trauma of childhood sexual assault is superbly written -- diving right into all of the shame, guilt, and fear that we don't like to talk about. The play wasn't originally written for Zoom, but it translates so easily it might well have been. And with the combination of Jessica Wallenfels' excellent direction, Lava Alapai's Netflix-quality video work, and the fine performances of the actors (most of whom are still in high school), this production surpasses most of the professional virtual shows I've seen.

The play centers on Alex, played by Lily Russell, a now-college student who's in therapy to process sexual assault by a classmate that happened when she was in middle school. Alex wasn't alone -- the perpetrator did the same thing to several girls in Lily's class.

Now, six years later, Alex is having a hard time and working to understand why -- she wonders if she'll ever be able to experience true intimacy, if her queer identity can be tied to back to the assault, and even if the whole thing ever happened in the first place. Over a break from school, she connects with three of her former classmates -- Jennie (Aleena Yee), Hallie (Sylvia Grosvold), and Ruthie (Lana Sage) -- to see if they are having the same struggles.

The most striking thing about ALEX GETTING BETTER is its emotional honesty. It doesn't try to put the characters into boxes with nice, neat edges. Instead, it embraces the messiness and uncertainty of the different ways we all deal with trauma -- the pull between the past and the present, the self-doubt and uncertainty, and the complicated feelings around blame and accountability. I can't commend the young acting company enough for their handling of these issues.

If you are a teenage girl, have ever been a teenage girl, or even know a teenage girl, carve out an hour this weekend to watch this show. ALEX GETTING BETTER is available to stream through May 31. More details and tickets here:

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Krista runs a content marketing business in Portland, Oregon. She fell in love with musicals at age 5, when her parents took her to see a university production of The Music Man. Krista attends as much... (read more about this author)

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