When Louis Kronenberger retired from reviewing theater for Time magazine after 25 years, he wrote in his farewell, "How could one not feel relieved when so much of one's job was not merely dull but degrading." Amen.
Though Mr. Kronenberger lasted longer on the job than I, seven years of theater in Portland seems like the right amount to absorb. Past that lies only suicide or demoralized, pat praise drudgery à la The Oregonian. So I'm off to seek new stages.
I seem to have inflicted some pain upon the Portland theater community during my tenure here. It was never my intention to go forth nightly and club seal pups, but considering how thin the skin is on many locals, the job description was oddly similar. The truth is that Portland is often an amateurville horror, with far too many ego-driven poseurs, painted hams and desiccated frauds crowding the stage. But, then, I fear I've chronicled this phenomenon to death, haven't I?
Miraculously, there are still real artists slaving away here, who have, on rare but memorable occasions, created moments of theatrical truth and beauty that will stay with me for the rest of my life. And so I would like to bid you all adieu with the best of the past seven years:
Profile's Wings, with the marvelous Gaynor Sterchi, and Blue Roses. Imago's Dead End Ed, Ginger's Green, A Symphony of Rats and, what remains my favorite production over these long, tedious seven years, House Taken Over. Artists Repertory Theatre's Indiscretions, The Misanthrope (Dennis Bigelow's excellent production), and Hand2Mouth's Wild Child. Portland Repertory Theatre's Molly Sweeney and the Haven Project's Happy Days (both with significant performances by Gretchen Corbett).
There was also Sowelu's The Further Adventures of Anse and Bhule in No-Man's Land, The Treatment, and headless. The Other Side's Endgame, Machinal and Marie and Bruce (both with that powerhouse of an actress Vanessa Rios y Valles). Theatre Vertigo's Lion in the Streets (Lorraine Bahr at her greatest), Triangle's Shakespeare's R&J, plus anything from The House of Cunt and Hoskins & Breen.
Liminal's Seven Deadly Sins, Handke Salmagundi (I could have happily spent a day immersed in it) and Jowl Movements I-IX. Defunkt's Bad Infinity and Sojourn's Seven Great Loves. Christine Calfas' Sappho's Arrow and Robert Quillen Camp's Turntable. Miracle's Lorca in a Green Dress, Third Rail and CoHo's Recent Tragic Events, and Lightbox's Taps and 4.48 Psychosis. Finally, there was Tygres Heart's one redeeming moment, Charles Marowitz's Measure for Measure (what might we have witnessed had Marowitz been chosen to take over that troublesome company?). To the artists involved in these projects, thank you all, best of luck, and goodbye.