January 28th, 2010 5:33 pm | by NATALIE BAKER News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Fertile Ground Day 5: Pulp Diction and How the Light Gets In


After a short break for press day, we're back with more of the Fertile Ground festival of new performance art.

Pulp Diction Presents: The Rewrite Man
Everyone has something to hide in this occasionally mystifying reading of a new spy thriller, written by Oregon Book Award winner Steve Patterson and delivered with a splash of neo-noir. "There's cloak and dagger, and then there's crazy," announces WWII vet Frank Anderson (Brian Allard, director) to the intelligence officer tailing him (played by Andrew Bray), accurately summarizing the essence of this piece, in which Anderson attempts to grapple with his loss of wartime memory and wariness of all fellow characters. The trusty bartender Leo (Beau Brousseau) suddenly seems not so trustworthy, therapist Dr. Miles (Megan Murphy Ruckman) appears to have some shady advice, and mystery woman Wanda (Erin Shannon) couldn't possibly be up to any good in a drama that ends with a flustered Frank accusing each character of ulterior motives in a doubt-filled, gun-pointing frenzy. Before and after the reading, alluring drag queen Phaedra Knight graced the stage, delivering witty quips and lip-synching Ani Difranco's "Overlap". This was one of a handful of unique particulars, the intimate nature of the Brody Theater (and the fact that it has a bar) being another, that serve as additional incentive to return for the subsequent showings of this week's Pulp Diction late night series. Matt Haynes' "The Night I Died," an adventurous piece directed by Paul Angelo, will be showing Wednesday. "The Go-Girls," written by Anna Sahlstrom and directed by Micki Selvitella, will be performed in anticipated hilarity on Thursday. The Brody Theater, 16 NW Broadway., 224-2227. 10:30 pm Wednesday-Thursday, Jan. 27-28. $15.

How the Light Gets In

This new play by Portlander Claire Willett, part of the Fertile Ground theatrical festival, sheds some luminance on struggles not often seen in the liberal theater scene: the sincere effort of a church trying to reach the highly secularized youth, namely one dealing with depression and past abuse. ‘Everything will be OK because Jesus loves you' isn't a message that is going to ring home for many, but Willett's script, which has moments of poetic beauty, will at least make the skeptics appreciate the effort. A youth minister herself, Willett introduces Molly, a troubled youth sent to a monastery by a guidance counselor. The monks are wary of the foul-mouthed teen but want to help, because her mother was a loved member of the monastery. I still would love to see a story where the church shows their compassion and worth to someone who isn't completely devoid of self-esteem, but the clichéd route is at least familiar. The ending is not as promising as the first half promises. The return of Ray, Molly's imprisoned father, leads to superfluous storylines and a lot of circular dialogue and yelling, which Willett could lose a viewer through. “How the Light,” which takes its title from a Leonard Cohen quote, may want to hone its themes more precisely, but with strong performances from Kelsey Tyler as Father John and Gilberto Martin Del Campo as Brother Magnus, it will give the crunchy granola set another side of the world to consider. ALI ROTHSCHILD. Jim and Patty's Coffee Shop, 5015 NE Fremont St., 205-0715. 7 pm Monday-Friday, Jan. 25-29. $8-$12.

See more of our coverage of the Fertile Ground festival here.

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