Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: TRIGGERED LIFE: A REQUIEM OF HEALING at Portland Playhouse

The production is live-streaming through April 4.

BWW Review: TRIGGERED LIFE: A REQUIEM OF HEALING at Portland Playhouse If I'm honest, I wasn't entirely looking forward to watching TRIGGERED LIFE: A REQUIEM OF HEALING, the emotional tour de force written by John Oluwole ADEkoje and starring Keith Mascoll now streaming at Portland Playhouse. I've been seeking comfort lately, and a play about childhood sexual abuse didn't seem particularly comforting. Plus, digital theatre is, well, it can be difficult to engage with.

I was so wrong! While watching the show, I was reminded that the beauty of theatre is its ability to surprise, to turn your expectations upside down, and to open your eyes to new stories and perspectives. TRIGGERED LIFE is about sexual abuse, but ultimately, as the subtitle says, it's about healing, and it provides an unexpected comfort. In terms of the experience, it combines live performance with pre-filmed bits and visual artistry into one of the best digital productions I've seen.

TRIGGERED LIFE is a one-person show about two characters - Keith and Ishmael, both of whom were sexually abused as children. Keith's stories, called testimonies, are based on the actor's own experiences, while Ishmael is a composite character. Childhood sexual abuse, especially of boys, is not a subject talked about much in life or in theatre, and the play discusses how the conversation is particularly missing in the Black and Brown communities. Keith and Ishmael confront their abuse in different ways, which together show a path toward healing and also the dangers of not taking that path. The details may be personal, but the pain and the need for healing are universal.

Mascoll is a vulnerable and generous performer, and not just because some of the stories he tells are his own. I felt a personal connection to him on a human level that I have felt often during live theatre but didn't imagine possible in a streaming production. The multimedia elements only add to the emotionality of the experience - the design somehow made my screen seem much larger than it actually is, and at moments I imagined myself actually sitting in Portland Playhouse rather than at my dining room table.

The play unfolds in two acts, but not in the usual way. The first act is Mascoll's performance, and the second act is the talkback, a piece that's so important that they've made it non-optional. Act Two features Mascoll along with his wife, Roxann Mascoll, a psychotherapist and social worker who leads the audience in some collective exercises for handling emotional triggers, followed by an open discussion about trauma and healing. In other words, Act One asserts the importance of having conversations around this type of trauma, and Act Two gets those conversations started.

TRIGGERED LIFE runs through April 4. I highly recommend it. More details and tickets here: https://portlandplayhouse.org/shows-events/triggered-life/. Please note that half of the performances are reserved for Black and Brown audience members only, so choose your performance appropriately.


Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles View More Portland Stories

From This Author Krista Garver