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BWW Review: THE OLDEST PROFESSION at Profile Theatre


This show runs through August 15 at Old Moody Stages.

BWW Review: THE OLDEST PROFESSION at Profile Theatre

Profile Theatre saved the best for last. THE OLDEST PROFESSION, the last Paula Vogel show of Profile's Paula Vogel / Lynn Nottage / Branden Jacobs-Jenkins "season," is not Vogel's most widely known or her most highly acclaimed, but the solid performances, sensitive direction, fabulous new performing arts venue, and what turns out to be an eerily timely play (with music!) combine to make it the strongest of the season.

THE OLDEST PROFESSION is set at the beginning of the Reagan era as five aging women who've been plying their trade for more than five decades take stock of their lives. If not for the fact that these five women are prostitutes, their conversation and concerns could be taken directly from today's headlines as marginalized workers struggling in a changing economy.

Vogel draws you in with her characteristic wit, and there's something deliciously naughty about women in their 60s and 70s with mouths like sailors. These women, who moved together from New Orleans to NYC, have carved out a niche for themselves -- catering to a group of local men who have regular weekly appointments and (mostly) pay on time. But, as the women age, their clientele does too; meanwhile, younger competition moves into the area. With growing health problems and without retirement savings, the women aren't left with many good choices.

I loved the play -- Vogel's application of modern business concepts (e.g., efficiency and cost-effectiveness) to the world's oldest profession cleverly exposes the inhumanity of our modern economy. All five of the actors (Joann Johnson, Amalia Alarcón Morris, Jane Bement Geesman, Elizabeth Elias Huffman, and Brenda Phillips) bring depth and warmth to their characters -- any one of them could have been my mother (if my mother could utter a dirty word without breaking out in a fit of giggles). And while the incorporation of music into the play was initially a bit awkward, I did love the saucy songs the women get to sing as they exit the stage of life.

Finally, especially amid the pandemic challenges facing live performances, what a thrill to welcome a new performing arts venue to Portland! If you haven't yet heard about Old Moody Stages at Zidell Yards, check it out -- there are events happening almost every day through the end of the month.

THE OLDEST PROFESSION has four more performances through the weekend. I recommend you check it out. More details and tickets here:

Photo credit: David Kinde

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