As I sat in the chilly warehouse space last night and waited for …ballet? to begin, I eavesdropped on the conversation next to me. Two women and one man were heatedly–though cordially–discussing their picks and pans of the Fertile Ground festival, the 10-day spree of new works of local theater and dance. Merely listening in on their conversation was exhausting. Fertile Ground's offerings are overwhelming in number (count 'em–68 performances), and this trio had been taking in numerous shows each day. As the festival nears its final weekend, here are some quick takes on what I've seen:
Jimmy Radosta's one-man show Triskaidekaphilia (Just My Luck) was billed as a blend of David Sedaris, Jon Stewart and Weird Al Yankovic. Unfortunately, Radosta lacks the comedic timing or the offbeat wit of these humorists. His show recounts his misadventures growing up gay in Salem, attending college in southern California and working as a journalist for the queer press. The opening night performance felt over-rehearsed–I could sense Radosta anticipating his own jokes–and hackneyed lines about former presidents ("unlike William Jefferson Clinton, I did inhale") flopped. Radosta gets in a few zingers–he describes Salem as the neglected middle child, overshadowed by older, sophisticated Portland and lovable baby Eugene–but they're not enough to carry the show. Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE Martin Luther King Blvd, curiouscomedy.org. 8 pm Thursday, Jan. 27. $10 advance, $13 at door.
In 99 Ways to Fuck a Swan, playwright Kim Rosenstock weaves together several narratives, from several different centuries–we've got ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, Victorian England and modern-day New York City. But Rosenstock's tale moves seamlessly, aided by Megan Kate Ward's deft directorial hand and Theatre Vertigo's impressive cast. A few moments toward the play's end feel overwrought, but these do little to detract from the show's shrewd humor and potent laughs. And before "99 Ways," don't miss the sneak peek of Camille Cettina's one-woman show Mr. Darcy Dream Boat, also at Theater! Theatre. Cettina presents an excerpt from her literary romp, which details her love affair with books (and the fictional characters who populate them). Cettina is earnest and engaging, in both voice and physicality–keep an eye on this show. Theater! Theatre! 3430 SE Belmont, theatrevertigo.org. 99 Ways 8 pm Thursdays-Saturdays, closes Feb. 12. Mr. Darcy Dream Boat 7:15 pm Thursdays-Saturdays through Jan. 29. $15, $20 with Mr. Darcy.
…ballet? showcases new choreography by several Oregon Ballet Theatre dancers. Yesterday, Christian Squires and Candace Bouchard premiered their works (Gavin Larsen will debut hers tonight), both of which examine life's halting and fleeting moments. Squires' piece, a duet with fellow OBT dancer Brennan Boyer, is by turns fretful and fluid, highlighting the strain of human relationships. Squires and Boyer often move in unison, nervously scratching at their limbs or anxiously wiping their hands over their mouths, but there remains an unresolved distance between the two, a tension that propels this promising work. Bouchard offers a series of solo pieces set to the live music of local guitarist Sean Flinn, who is joined on stage by drummer and vocalist Ezza Rose and pedal steel player Tucker Jackson. It's unusual and exciting to see musicians and dancers sharing the stage in such a way, but Wednesday's show felt a bit imbalanced. At times, Flinn's powerful folksy strains overshadowed Bouchard's grace. The strongest choreographic moments come when Bouchard introduces tangled or jolting movements, which provide the necessary grit to stand up to Flinn's sweet but haunting tunes. Squires and Bouchard 8:30 pm Thursday, 7 pm Friday Jan. 27-28 at The Art Department, 417 SE 11th Ave. Larsen 6 pm Wednesday, Jan. 26 and 7 pm Sunday at Conduit, 918 SW Yamhill St., No. 401. $10-$20.
Editor's note: For more Fertile Ground reviews, see our performance listings.