More than any other means of storytelling, theater is capable of stringing an audience along while unraveling all its assumptions. At least, that's the impression one gets at the end of this theater season in Portland.
Last fall, Artists Repertory Theatre kicked off its season with An Octoroon, which tumbled through the futility of the cultural language around race. Now, Third Rail Repertory Theatre is ending its season with Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., Alice Birch's whirlwind play that pushes up against our limited language for discussing gender through a series of destructive, occasionally violent vignettes.
There's a woman who has a breakdown in a supermarket, and a discussion about motherhood that leads to self-mutilation. In the tumultuous final scene, Revolt's disparate pieces don't come together, they come crashing down. With a script designed to spiral out of control, it's a play meant to make the actors fumble as much as the audience. But the team helming the Portland production of Revolt is uniquely capable of grasping slippery plays.
Third Rail was producing ambiguous, poignant plays before they became a citywide trend. Plus, the company has enlisted director Rebecca Lingafelter and sound designer Mark Valadez, who recently helped create Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble's madcap Deception Unit, which also has a devolving structure and questions everything as ruthlessly as Revolt. It's bound to be both gripping and chaotic.
SEE IT: Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is at CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh St., thirdrailrep.org. 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, 2 pm Sunday, May 25-June 16. $25-$45.