Review: TRUE STORY at Artists Repertory Theatre

E.M. Lewis's theatre noir thriller runs through June 4 at the Ellen Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage.


What is truth? Is it what actually happened, what you think happened, or perhaps what you want to have happened? What do we accept as evidence? What about when that evidence directly contradicts our biases? E.M. Lewis's TRUE STORY, now running at Artists Repertory Theatre, dives straight into these gray areas. This clever theatre noir thriller will have you on the edge of your seat as it follows the twists and turns of a multilayered crime story to the perfect ending that you'll never see coming.

Hal Walker (played by Joshua J. Weinstein) is a second-rate mystery writer struggling with his next book. His wife recently died and he has been seeking solace in too much cheap scotch. When his editor, Brett Martin (Maria Porter), calls offering him a job as a ghostwriter for Donnie Lawrence (Setareki Wainiqolo), a wealthy man recently acquitted of killing his wife, Hal doesn't want to take it but also he doesn't have much choice - he needs the money. Over three days of interviews about the circumstances of Donnie's wife's disappearance, Hal discovers the slipperiness of this thing we call truth. It's a wild ride while also being a cautionary tale about making assumptions and letting what we think we know blind us to everything else.

If you've not yet had the pleasure of seeing an E.M. Lewis play, this is a great time to fix that. TRUE STORY clearly demonstrates why she's one of Oregon's top playwrights - it's smart, funny, poignant, and has implications far beyond the stage. We make decisions based on fuzzy information all of the time, and those decisions have consequences.

Artists Rep's production, directed by Luan Schooler and associate director Vin Shambry, is razor sharp. The technical aspects of the show - in particular Sharath Patel's sound design (which makes liberal use of the "dun dun" sound effect) and Sophina Flores's striking and dynamic lighting design - are excellent for setting the mood and heightening the suspense.

The cast, rounded out by Sami Yacob-Andrus as Donnie's 15-year-old daughter Miriam, and Claire Rigsby as the detective Hayden Quinn, leans heavily into the ambiguity. Everyone "knows" Donnie killed his wife, but he seems like a decent guy - is that big smile sinister or sincere? How much does Miriam know about her mom's disappearance? What happened to Hal's wife? Is any of this real, or is it all just in Hal's imagination as he works on his next book? Not all of these questions will be answered.

Whether you're a true crime fan, a detective story fan, or just enjoy an exciting night at the theatre, TRUE STORY is for you. The play runs through June 4 at the Ellen Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage. Click Here.


PRETTY WOMAN, THE CHER SHOW And More Announced For 2023–24 Broadway Season At Pikes Peak Center

The American Theatre Guild, the largest not-for-profit touring Broadway presenter in the nation, unveils its highly anticipated 23–24 Season for the Pikes Peak Center. The BROADWAY AT PIKES PEAK CENTER SERIES will include the following Broadway touring productions: PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL, HAIRSPRAY, LITTLE WOMEN and THE CHER SHOW. 

THE INHERITANCE, PART TWO to Open This Week at Triangle Productions

Triangle Productions will present The Inheritance, Part Two June 1 through 17.


This wild play by Max Yu explores how technology isolates and then consumes us as it goes from being a tool we use to something we’re used by.

Review: MARY JANE at Third Rail Repertory Theatre

This beautiful play is a powerful lesson in staving off despair and loneliness through authentic connection with others.

From This Author - Krista Garver

Krista lives 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 theater as possible, in as ... (read more about this author)


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