we went to see (concerning strange devices from the distant west) by naomi iizuka. four actors and one narrator sat in chairs on the stage, they presented three stories taking place about ten to twenty years a apart. all somehow connected to a picture, circa 1885, of a shirtless japanese boy holding a box containing a cicada. it was a slow drama that unfolded in a delicate manner. the story was intricate and well plotted. when fully staged i think it will be more engaging, in the reading it came off a little confusing. since it was four actors playing three roles each, and the non-linear storytelling that naomi iizuka is known for, we kept losing track of the characters. i think keeping it at four actors is a good choice, it’s the costumes and sets that will help. when fully staged, it should be fascinating.
the other reading we saw was kimberly rosenstock’s 99 ways to fuck a swan. interestingly this was a non-linear collection connecting around a painting, except this was a comedy, and a very successful one. four stories, spanning more than 3000 years, weave in an out of each other while focusing on michelangelo’s “leda and the swan”, and it’s affect on the happiness and and loves of the group involved. this play was hilarious, some of the funniest parts involved possible human/feline intercourse. it was in not way crude or smutty, trust me. some of the jokes did seem a little ‘played for laughs’, they could be fixed though. and unlike the other play, it should be staged the way pcs did. they did a fantastic job, using eight actors and three rows of folding chairs. the minimal approach is best to balance with over sized humor.
i don’t understand how a struggling theater can put on a free week long festival, but i’m thankful they did. it was an excellent way to escape from sauna portland has become over the last week.