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Lizzie

REBECCA JACOBSON
7:30 pm Tuesdays-Sundays; 2 pm Saturday-Sundays; and noon Thursdays through June 29, Tuesday June 24 | $38-$72
Gerding Theater
128 NW 11th Ave.
 
Like Gwen Stefani circa “Just a Girl”—only homicidal and clad in Victorian dress—the Lizzie Borden of rock opera Lizzie is a foot-stomping, hair-flinging rebel who can rock out with the best of them. Never mind that the real-life Borden was believed to be homely and less-than-bright: Here she’s a redheaded firecracker in a turquoise dress with an ax (heh) to grind. She may be deranged, but she’s got good motive for hacking her father and stepmother to bits. While Lizzie’s attempts at narrative-building and character development prove mostly thin, its punk- and metal-inspired songs are a deliciously loud blend of camp, gore, profanity and tenderness. These four Portland Center Stage performers take every confrontational power stance possible, unleash primordial wails a la Led Zeppelin and seductively caress the onstage scaffolding. That scaffolding quite obviously recalls prison bars, and as in Chicago’s “Cell Block Tango,” Borden’s victims had it coming: The show makes Lizzie’s father out to be a sexually abusive miser who prioritized his second wife over his daughters. (Andrew Borden was indeed a tightfisted undertaker, but there’s scant evidence he molested either daughter.) It also imagines a lesbian relationship between Lizzie and her neighbor. Here’s the thing, though: As much as a liberal-arts student might gleefully “problematize” the liberties that Lizzie takes, as a vehicle for a powerful quartet of women to belt out anthems of rebellion and retribution, it’s pretty damn fun. As Lizzie, Mary Kate Morrissey is like a marionette operated by a diabolical puppeteer, jerking around her body and bugging out her eyes. Matching Morrissey is Carrie Cimma as Bridget, the Bordens’ Irish maid: She’s a boiling cauldron of resentment, vanity and mischievousness, with high kicks to rival David Lee Roth’s. Some speculate that Bridget did the nasty deed. As played by Cimma, I certainly wouldn’t mess with her.

Where: Gerding Theater
Phone: 445-3700
Address: 128 NW 11th Ave.
Website: pcs.org

 
 
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