BWW Review: Fertile Ground: TETHER, I AM AN ACTRESS, UNDE+EC+ABLE
The 10th Anniversary Fertile Ground Festival starts January 24, but a few shows opened early, which means more time to see more things! This year, Fuse Theatre Ensemble is presenting four original works, all about an hour, running in repertory. Last Thursday evening, I saw three of them.
TETHER: ADHD+BDSM is a solo show written and performed by Sara Fay Goldman. It centers on her experience of being diagnosed with ADHD at age 25 and the treatments that were supposed to help her focus. It's an expansive show that draws on not only Goldman's personal history, but neuroscience, pharmacology, anthropology, folklore, musical theatre (I'm pretty sure I heard a few strains of "Till There Was You" in Christopher Beatty's richly layered soundtrack), and more in a performance to which no genre can be ascribed. In other words, TETHER has a lot going on. I didn't get all of it, but that wasn't really the point.
What TETHER does incredibly effectively is to help those of us who don't have ADHD start to understand what it's like. The show starts at a breakneck speed, as Goldman rushes from one topic to another, struggling to keep on track. Over the next hour, she works to make sense of her diagnosis, while also trying various ways to keep herself focused. The show gradually slows down and, in contrast to the first 5 minutes, the last 10 or so move at a snail's pace, as she finally finds what she's looking for.
TETHER: ADHD+BDSM runs through this weekend: Jan 24 @ 6pm, Jan 25 @ 8pm, Jan 26 @ 10pm, Jan 27 @ 2pm. More details and tickets here.
I AM AN ACTRESS: A PASSION PLAY
I AM AN ACTRESS is another solo show, written and performed by Jane Comer, "one of Portland's pioneering trans performers." It's an autobiographical story that traces Comer's life and family from before she was born through her childhood, school years, and early adulthood as she worked to overcome obstacles to achieve her dream of becoming an actress. As far as that dream was concerned, Comer had the deck seriously stacked against her. Not only was she born male, but she also had a severe speech impediment.
This show is ultimately about the triumph of the human spirit. And about being yourself (one of my favorite lines: "Don't let the world decide who you are. They always seem to get it wrong."). And about life, with all of its funny bits and sad bits. If you've been having a hard time lately, this show will help you put that into perspective. Or, as Comer says, just go for your chance to meet a transgender person and discover that they "have problems just like everybody else."
I AM AN ACTRESS: A PASSION PLAY runs through this weekend: Jan 24 @ 8pm; Jan 25 @ 10pm; Jan 26 @ 6pm. More details and tickets here.
If you're worried that the world as we know it might end sometime soon, say, in a nuclear war, or an earthquake, or a nuclear war and an earthquake, well, UNDE+EC+ABLE won't help you feel any better about that. This post-apocalyptic play, written and directed by Rusty Tennant, follows two people on a journey backward in time from a year after a nuclear explosion plus earthquake levels Portland to the fateful day. The two, who were strangers when the catastrophe happened, are hiding in the basement of an apartment building, surviving by scrounging food and stealing medicine. At the beginning of the play, one of the characters is dying of AIDS, having run out of the medicine he needs to survive.
Of the three shows, this one was the least ready for prime time. The play scratches the surface of some interesting questions -- like, when the end does come, what will happen to people who depend on medicine to survive, and who will take charge to impose order in a lawless society -- but it doesn't delve too deeply. And though it was novel to experience the decline of civilization in reverse, there weren't any real revelations or surprises. Overall, I liked the concept of the play quite a lot, but felt that it needed some fleshing out to reach its potential.
UNDE+EC+ABLE runs through this weekend: Jan 24 @ 10pm; Jan 25 @ 6pm; Jan 26 @ 8pm; Jan 27 @ 4pm. More details and tickets here.