Tag Archives: David Mamet

Link: The rites of pain & politics onstage

Ty Boice and Anne Mueller in "Kabuki Titus." Courtesy Bag&Baggage

By Bob Hicks

I’ll match your money-grubbing idiot politician and raise you a virgin-mutilating Goth queen. Portland’s summer season of theatrical broad gestures is in full gallop, and I slowed down long enough to file this report at Oregon ArtsWatch on Jane: A Theater Company‘s production of the David Mamet political farce November and Bag & Baggage‘s Kabuki Titus, director Scott Palmer’s pared-down take on Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

An excerpt about Kabuki Titus:

“I’d be surprised if Palmer hadn’t had the films of Akira Kurosawa in mind when he was creating his adaptation, especially Throne of Blood, Kurosawa’s noh-steeped adaptation of Macbeth. Once Anne Mueller, playing Titus’s unfortunate daughter Lavinia, enters the stage the performance suggests another movie parallel, the movement poetics of the great silent films. … (W)hen she floats delicately onto the scene she immediately becomes the most vital reason to see this show. The production springs into an altered reality, elevating from what had been a sometimes strained approximation of kabuki movement into the sort of time-altering dream-state that ritual requires.”

An excerpt about November:

November is what it is: an odd but bracing little goof that embraces the great American passion for ridiculing the casual venality and mock sincerity of politics. Things’ll get heavier and heavier as November approaches. Right now the sun’s out, the jokes are flying, and the targets are as fat and juicy as they’re likely to get. Bring your pop gun. Bag yourself a politician. Seems they’re in season.”


Photo: Ty Boice and Anne Mueller in “Kabuki Titus.” Courtesy Bag & Baggage

Link: killing cats in Inishmore

Artists Repertory Theatre playbill logo

By Bob Hicks

On Saturday night, Mr. Scatter put on his professional drama-critic hat (it’s a metaphorical hat; it was a blustery evening, so he actually wore a rain jacket with a hood) and went to Artists Repertory Theatre to see Martin McDonagh‘s nasty little comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore. He means that “nasty little comedy” bit in the nicest possible way: Inishmore is savage and bloody and brutal, and it’s true that more than one cat, in addition to several humans, who seem to deserve it more, comes to a violent end. But it’s also genuinely funny, in that nervous why-am-I-laughing-at-this way.

A brief review ran in Monday morning’s Oregonian, and you can read Mr. Scatter’s much more complete version online here at Oregon Live. He can imagine a more violently scary  production, and he can imagine a more broadly comic one, but he thinks Artists Rep director Jon Kretzu and his cast got the balance about right.

McDonagh is a transgressive writer, dealing in that unruly space between myth and reality: another of his plays, The Pillowman, is about what happens when a writer’s tales of fantasy mayhem seem to be playing themselves out in real life. Like a lot of male playwrights (David Mamet and Neil LaBute come to mind) he’s fascinated with the nature and character of aggression, and his plays can slice both ways, reveling in the stuff as they dissect it. That makes the audience … not complicit, exactly, but responsible for sorting out its own attitudes on the subject.

Then again, that’s a good deal of what theater, or literature, or any art form is about: the beginning of a conversation. In the aggressive male metaphor, the first shot. It’s not just a conversation. The artist sets the terms, and to a significant degree is in charge of the show. But a willing and perceptive audience completes the connection and sets off ripples of meaning, each meaning a little bit different for every individual involved in the encounter.

McDonagh is a terrific storyteller, and he has some fascinating things to say about aggression, which if he’s wary about he also frankly enjoys. He’s got swagger and a bit of a bad-boy reputation, as this year-old story by Foster Kamer in the Village Voice suggests. It relates, among other things, McDonagh’s obscenity-laced threat to beat up fellow Irish playwright Conor McPherson (whose play The Seafarer was a hit for Artists Rep last season) for a perceived insult.

Just so long as he leaves McPherson’s cat alone.

Gentlemen, do the right thing

Nurys Herrera and Vicente Guzmán-Orozco; photo by Russell Young

Tomorrow is St. Valentine’s Day. This is an important occasion, and not one to be taken lightly — or, horror of horrors, forgotten — unless you enjoy being a thirty-five-year-old bachelor living in your parents’ basement and spending all your free time playing online Dungeons & Dragons.

Pancho Villa did not waste his time like that. Pancho Villa did not spend his Valentine’s nights alone. Pancho Villa was a man, and he knew how to treat his significant other of the moment.

This may or may not be at the heart of Sabina Berman’s comedy Entre Villa y una Mujer Desnud (Between Pancho Villa and a Naked Woman), which opened last night at Milagro Theatre. The play’s performed in Spanish, with English subtitles, and although we haven’t seen it yet, as Milagro describes it, it sounds fetching:

Gina wants more out of her casual relationship with Adrian, a liberal intellectual who’s in it only for some good sex. Adrian shies away from any form of commitment – that is, until Gina takes up with a younger, more sensitive lover. That’s when the spirit of Mexico’s most famous revolutionary rides again, appearing as Adrian’s macho conscience ready to do anything to win this battle of the sexes.

This evening Mr. and Mrs. Scatter will hie themselves out to Hillsboro for the opening of Bag & Baggage Theatre‘s own contribution to the battle of the sexes: a scrunching-together of Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew and John Fletcher‘s Jacobean response to it, The Woman’s Prize, or The Tamer Tamed, in which Kate comes out on top. Do tell!

We might have gone to Third Rail Rep‘s new revival of David Mamet‘s American Buffalo, which looks like it could be a memorable production, but not this weekend. It’s about three loser guys trying to pull off a scam from a junk shop. What’s the percentage in that? If they couldn’t score a date, they should have just settled in for a round of Dungeons & Dragons.

Don’t let that happen to you, D&D boys. A last-minute tip: Flowers are always good. Chocolates, too. At Chez Scatter, we’re planning oysters and sparkling wine. We might be leaving our bandolier and hat on the hitching post, though.


PICTURED: Nurys Herrera and Vicente Guzmán-Orozco in “Entre Villa y una Mujer Desnud.” Photo by Russell Young.