Monday, March 20, 2017

HART’S The December Man – Violence Casts a Large Shadow

Sam Ruble, Stan Yeend, and Patti Speight.
Photo by Nicole Mae Photography


By Tina Arth

On December 6, 1989, a disturbed young man went into an engineering classroom at Montreal’s École Polytechnique, ordered the men out of the room, and slaughtered 14 young women. The attack, with a body count even larger than 1999’s Columbine massacre, has had a huge and lasting impact on Canadians, but is little remembered south of the border. HART Theatre’s current production of playwright Colleen Murphy’s The December Man (L ' homme de décembre) ensures that its audience will never forget. Director Dorinda Toner (not surprisingly, a Canadian) and her tiny cast carefully hammer home the story, not of the killer or the women, but of the collateral damage done to one of the male students and his family; it is a tale that should resonate with anyone who has ever felt the impact of tragedy.

The material is presented in reverse chronological order, beginning with a scene in which fictional student Jean Fournier’s parents, Kate and Benoit, methodically prepare their home for a tidy joint suicide. Subsequent scenes show them agonizing over their son’s previous suicide, his inability to “just move on” from the trauma of being a survivor, and finally December 6, the fateful day when he escaped the immediate death visited upon the 14 women, but was nonetheless doomed by the experience. For anyone who takes a few minutes to read the Director’s note in the program and study Karen Roder’s stunning lobby display, there is no mystery to the facts of the massacre  – we know who dies, and when – but the real story is peeling away the layers to reveal and explore the inescapable despair that overwhelms Jean, Kate, and Benoit. Their story becomes a metaphor for all of us as we cope with a seemingly endless series of human crises that have become a hallmark of modern civilization.

The audience spends much more time with Kate (Patti Speight) and Benoit (Stan Yeend) than with their son Jean (Sam Ruble), so much of what we are shown (or left to infer) about Jean’s experience comes through the lens of his parents’ perceptions and reactions. Speight (who stepped in at the last moment and learned the whole part in just over a week) is maddeningly convincing as a blue-collar cleaning lady mom, clinging to both her Catholic faith and her faith in the ordinary to help her cope with unthinkable tragedy. Yeend comes closer to grasping the depth of Jean’s trauma; his nuanced performance creates a character at once intelligent but uneducated, struggling to identify the key that will allow his son to recover his equilibrium. By the time Ruble appears, the audience understands his character much better than either of his parents ever will. Ruble shifts from despair to fantasies of heroism and expresses an overwhelming, insurmountable loneliness that cannot help but resonate with the viewers.

The set is deceptively simple, a devastatingly normal detailed working class living room surrounded by a dark framework of studs (but no walls). The visual effect nicely reinforces the play’s thematic structure, suggesting physical prison bars as well as the psychological bars around a family trapped by their own, and society’s, expectation that business as usual is the key to overcoming the unthinkable.

Director Toner and her cast offer a powerful reminder that we must take care of each other, and find a way to connect in painful times, for there is no real solace in denial. There is no intermission to relieve the intensity, and the audience is encouraged to linger afterwards for a talkback session where they can explore their own feelings as well as those of the cast and crew. Because of strong language and mature themes, the show is not recommended for children.


The December Man is playing at the HART Theatre, 185 SE Washington, Hillsboro through April 2nd, with performances at 7:30 on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00 on Sundays. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Twilight Theatre Company’s Wrenching Reminder of Harsh Truths

Jennifer Bruckner and Johnnie Torres

By Tina Arth

Hey, kids! Remember AIDS? Remember red ribbons to show solidarity with people living with this vicious disease? Well, here’s a shocker: despite our obsession with 45’s tweets and cute cat videos, it’s still with us – in the world (estimated 2.1 million new diagnoses in 2015), in the U.S. (estimated 1.2 million people currently living with AIDS), and in Oregon (estimated 6605 people living with AIDS, 50% in Multnomah County). Nothing I’ve ever experienced has brought this awful truth home to me with the power of Twilight Theater Company’s current production of The Normal Heart. Under the direction of Jason A. England, Larry Kramer’s hard-hitting 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS epidemic explodes across the stage with a stark and heart-wrenching intensity, made especially poignant by the fact that we now know (as the author did not) that there was no magic solution – no latter-day Jonas Salk - lurking around the next corner, vaccine in hand.

Even before the play starts, the audience is surrounded by tragic images – the set is a near-barren stage, the backdrop a series of columns inscribed with the scrawled names of prominent AIDS victims. The lights come up on a video about the effect of AIDS on the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus; reinforcing the immediacy of the topic, we see faces of AIDS victims from this iconic local group gradually blurred in a series of snapshots. The play is angry, confrontational, and explicitly political (and not surprisingly, frequently relevant to current topics), yet the author includes compelling stories of love, disillusionment, and even triumph that transcend the overtly political and create a real relationship between the audience and the characters.

Action begins with New York author/gay activist Ned Weeks (Marvin Gray) in the waiting room of Dr. Emma Brookner (Jennifer Clevenger), a physician who is alarmed by the number of gay men who are coming to her with a mysterious batch of symptoms, and frustrated that nobody in the medical establishment or New York city government is willing to acknowledge that there is a looming crisis. Before she allows Weeks to interview her, she insists that he disrobe so that she can check him for signs of the disease – unlike the patient who had just left in tears, Weeks seems to be disease-free. Brookner insists that, until more is known about transmission, someone with a voice in the gay community (i.e., Weeks) needs to mount a campaign against gay sexual activity, in particular, promiscuity. As the show and crisis develop, new characters intertwine their stories with Weeks’; we see relationships torn apart by disease, and feel the anguish of people confronting the specter of death with no guidelines on how to protect themselves.

While most of the characters are gay men, and each does a fine job with at least one emotionally wrenching diatribe, it is Clevenger, the only woman in the play, who gets one of the most powerful scenes. Confined to a wheelchair by childhood polio contracted just before the Salk vaccine became available, her frustration and heartbreak gradually build until her rage – at herself, her patients, and the medical community – finally erupts into a spectacular outburst that leaves the audience thoroughly shaken. Gray manages to make his relentlessly abrasive character appealing, even as he alienates almost everyone around him, and he handles rejection, love, and heartbreak as adeptly as fury. David Alan Morrison is sincere and believable as Weeks’ brother Ben, a straight lawyer who has tried for years to help “cure” Ned of his homosexuality. If your tears have not yet started, the deathbed-wedding scene with Weeks’ lover Felix (Johnnie Torres) will crack even the hardest shell.

England and his cast make The Normal Heart both a ferocious diatribe and a compelling story, with didactic elements held in check by the actors’ delivery. While it’s clearly not a fun show to watch, it is utterly captivating, and absolutely worth an evening out – it’s rare to find so much story and history packed into so few hours.


Twilight Theater Company’s The Normal Heart is playing at the Performing Arts Theater, 7515 N. Brandon Avenue, Portland through Sunday, March 26th with performances at 8 P.M. Friday and Saturday and 3:00 P.M. Sundays. There is also a performance at 8:00 P.M. on Thursday, March 23. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Mask & Mirror’s Crimes of the Heart A Real Roller Coaster

Jayne Furlong, Adriana Gantzer, and Amelia Morgan-Rothschild


By Tina Arth

There’s just something about sisters in the South – from the gloom and doom of Streetcar Named Desire to the utterly fluffy Dearly Beloved, American theater is rife with tales of the complex relationships between siblings raised below the Mason-Dixon Line. Mask & Mirror’s current production of Crimes of the Heart is perched right in the middle of the road – not nearly as dark as Streetcar, but substantive enough to escape the clichéd slapstick of Beloved. Playwright Beth Henley’s Pulitzer Prize winning script is loaded with humor, but also takes a respectful look at important themes like domestic violence, depression, infidelity, even suicide. Director Linda Morris Taluto and her cast present the seemingly absurd (she shot her husband “because I didn’t like his stinkin’ looks!”) yet integrate these moments into an oddly believable reality, and the result is a compelling story that flows easily between the wacky and the profoundly serious.

The story revolves around the three Magrath sisters, the mousy stay-at-home Lenny, flamboyant and promiscuous Meg, and winsomely bipolar Babe, reuniting in the family home as their grandfather is dying. Meg’s failed singing career in Los Angeles has devolved into a nervous breakdown, Lenny is facing her 30th birthday alone (sticking candles in a cookie and singing “Happy Birthday” to herself), and Babe is out on bail after having shot her husband. The sisters have all been damaged by their mother’s sensational suicide when they were children (the event got national coverage because she also hung her cat), and they have never really succeeded in forming lasting relationships outside of their tiny family circle. We can’t completely predict how their lives will turn out after the final curtain, but it is clear that they will survive because of the strength they draw from each other.

Much of the comic relief comes from the Magrath’s cousin, Chick Boyle (Katherine Roundy). From the opening scene where she struggles into a pair of extra small pantyhose through a series of exceptionally snarky moments until, finally, Lenny chases her out of the kitchen with a broom, Roundy exemplifies the stereotypical Southern matron obsessed with the family’s good name.  Jay Dressler plays Babe’s neophyte lawyer Barnette Lloyd with an earnest naivety – he is clearly dazzled by the Magrath sisters and seriously enamored of his client. Nathan Larrabee is charmingly seductive as Meg’s now-married ex beau Doc Porter, and he delights the audience (if not Meg) with the mature backbone hidden beneath his devil-may-care exterior.

Of course, it’s the three sisters who make or break this show, and Taluto’s trio does a spectacular job of dealing with humor and heartbreak, sometimes simultaneously. Amelia Morgan-Rothschild moves the seriously delusional “Babe” through an amazing menu of emotions, integrating low comedy with high drama in a feast of bi-polar behavior. Jayne Furlong (“Meg”) has mastered the art of self-centered brassiness, both in her facial expressions and her strident voice, yet gives her character just enough subliminal warmth that we sense the pain and love beneath her hard shell. Adriana Gantzer’s “Lenny” is a perfect combination of dowdiness, disappointment, insecurity, and loneliness – humorously pathetic, but always with an undertone of real tragedy until she finds the confidence to grab the reins of her own life.

“Woody” Woodbury’s set is a thing of beauty - the classic kitchen as symbol for the heart of family – and Cindy Zimmerman’s set dressing contains dozens of tiny touches that complete the picture, and set the stage for a funny, touching, lovely play that should not be missed.


Crimes of the Heart is playing at “The Stage” at Calvin Church, 10445 SW Canterbury Lane, Tigard, 97224, with shows at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday March 11, 18, 25 and 2:00 p.m. on Sunday March 12, 19, 26. The role of Barnette Lloyd will be played by Blaine Vincent III on March 11, 18, 19, and 26.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Brontë Family Circulating Among the Stacks at Hillsboro Library

Picture (from top left, clockwise) is of Joey Copsey, Peter Schuyler,
Cassie Greer, Morgan Cox, and Jessi Walters.


By Tina Arth

Hillsboro’s Bag & Baggage Theatre has faced some huge challenges in the past year – like opening night of an outdoor performance forced by rain to quickly adjourn to the barren concrete floor of their unfinished new theater space. However, that was nothing compared to the fancy footwork required to re-imagine the staging of their current production of Brontë from the venerable Venetian stage to the Hillsboro Public library. Guest Director Michelle Milne, her cast and crew, and the library staff are collaborating to make this production of British playwright Polly Teale’s 2005 play an amazingly engaging and thought-provoking experience. Better yet, the evening flows so smoothly, and provides such an intimate experience for the audience, that one imagines a conventional production might seem slightly static and sterile by contrast.

Brontë tells the sometimes accurate, sometimes fictional tale of the Brontë sisters (Charlotte, Emily, and Anne), their father Patrick, brother Branwell, and curate Arthur Bell Nicholls living and dying in isolation on the Yorkshire moors.  A constant unspoken theme is the effect of Victorian sexual mores on the three women’s lives and work. Ironically, the sisters’ degree of repression and introversion is inversely proportional to the scandalous and sexualized tone of their writing. Cassie Greer’s bold, adventurous Charlotte produces the critically acclaimed, but relatively tame Jane Eyre. Morgan Cox’s brilliant but very private Emily shocks the literary world with the fierce passions of Wuthering Heights. However, it is Jessi Walters’ gentle, timid Anne who thrusts themes of domestic abuse and debauchery – hardly topics for polite society – center stage in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

Without sets to create atmosphere, the audience is required to rely on imagination and a forest of books – just as the real Brontë sisters used imagination and their father’s extensive library to break the boundaries of their narrow world and create some of the most passionate fiction of the 19th century. While the audience moves about in the library, the story also moves freely, jumping forward and backward in time and interspersing frequent cameos by characters from the sisters’ most iconic novels: Cathy and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, and Jane, Rochester, and Bertha from Jane Eyre.  

The acting is every bit as good as we have come to expect of a Bag & Baggage cast – Greer, Cox and Walters capture the three sisters personas flawlessly. Peter Schuyler transitions easily from the upright and autocratic Patrick to the brooding, volatile Rochester and the timid, lovestruck Nicholls. Joey Copsey is at his best as Branwell, who moves from boyish exuberance and abandon to dissolute alcoholism when his father’s ambitions send him out of the protection of the family home and into the harsh realities of the outside world.  Jenny Newbry’s take on Cathy is spot-on – an eerie mixture of passionate abandon and barely controlled hysteria. Newbry’s Bertha is a bit tougher to accept, perhaps because in the library setting we are a little too close to her as she crawls madly around a series of rooms.

Melissa Heller’s costumes are just detailed enough to suggest each change in character, while allowing for the rapid changes required by the play’s unique staging. Violinist Taylor Neist expresses the ever-changing moods of the story, evoking especially well the darker moments, starting strong and then fading as only a violin can.

The structure of the production limits the audience to 60 people per night, so it’s advisable to purchase tickets early.  Even if Brontë should happen to be produced again locally, it may never get the kind of progressive treatment that Michelle Milne gives it. The audience is called on to walk enough that sensible shoes are strongly recommended!


Bag & Baggage’s Brontë is playing at the Hillsboro Public Library, Brookwood branch, with performances at 7:30 P.M. on March 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25, and 26. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Barefoot in Beaverton

Susan Giberson, Jeff Giberson, and Amanda Clark


By Tina Arth

Beaverton Civic Theatre’s latest is a thoroughly entertaining revival of one of Neil Simon’s earliest plays, 1963’s Barefoot in the Park. While some elements of the show are a bit shopworn, even dated Neil Simon humor is top-notch, and the play still stands as one of the funniest romantic comedies ever staged. Director Doreen Lundberg makes the right choice by presenting the play as a period piece, with attitudes, costumes, and décor appropriate to the era, and all of her cast members fully commit to their early sixties personas.

Newlyweds Corie and Paul Bratter have just moved into a tiny top floor brownstone apartment in New York City. Uptight, buttoned-down lawyer Paul seems an unlikely match for the impulsive, flamboyant Corie, and in less than a week they move from passionate young lovers to the edge of divorce as she frenetically tries to loosen him up and he tries to act like an adult in his first real job with a law firm. One wonders if this pair ever dated, or if they just moved from meeting to honeymoon without any of the usual preliminary steps. In addition to working on Paul’s attitudes, Corie is also eager to help her mother, Mrs. Banks, move out of her suburban New Jersey orbit and find a little spontaneous joy – but Corie gets more than she bargained for when her mom hooks up (in the thoroughly modern sense) with their eccentric upstairs neighbor, Mr. Velasco (aka “The Wolf of 48th Street”). Of course, in the end true love triumphs, but along the way the audience is treated to some of playwright Simon’s funniest dialogue and physical humor, delivered with split second comic timing.

There is nothing surprising about Amanda Clark’s superb portrayal of Corie Bratter. Few local actors can pull off wacky better than this funny woman, and Clark gives her all to be sure the audience is charmed, bemused, and amused by her character. BCT newcomer Conner Brown (as Paul Bratter) is Corie’s ideal match – something of a nerd, but with enough mensch-like qualities to make him an attractive counterpart to his flighty bride, and he pulls off his drunk scene with real panache.

Jeff Giberson goes over the top as Victor Velasco, but there’s no other direction for this character to go. He brings a smarmy, cosmopolitan touch to every scene, and somehow manages to make the unimaginable (accessing his rooftop abode through the Bratters’ bedroom window? Feeding them an almost inedible eel appetizer? Eel. That's why the time element is so essential. Eel spoils quickly”) seem perfectly normal for civilized sophisticates of his ilk.

It is Susan Giberson (as Mrs. Banks) who sets the bar highest in this production, while calmly stealing every scene in which she appears. She manages to capture the character’s contradictions – superficially fragile, cast by her daughter as the archetypal meddling mom, yet resilient, loving, wise, and the ultimate good sport. Her timing is spectacular, and the performance is alternatively nuanced and broad.

Mention must be made of one theatrical newcomer, Dwayne Thurnau. In his role as the telephone man, he is only on stage twice, for maybe a total of 10 minutes, usually hidden away in a corner quietly doing telephone-guy stuff. However, Thurnau turns this small role into a real jewel as he comments on the activity around him using his face and the occasional tidbit of New York style folksy wisdom.

Director Lundberg’s pacing is swift, but not rushed, so none of Simon’s non-stop witty lines are lost in the fray. The three acts and two intermissions fly by, propelled by frequent bursts of laughter from an appreciative audience. Many of the remaining performances will undoubtedly sell out, so buy your tickets early if possible – this Barefoot provides a lovely few hours of escape from electronic media!


Barefoot in the Park runs through Saturday, March 11th at the Beaverton City Library Auditorium, 12375 SW Fifth Street, Beaverton, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Monday, February 20, 2017

LOoPY Pirates Aboard!

Laurence Cox, Ron Swingen, Lindsey Lefler, and Jacob Mott.


By Tina Arth


Light Opera of Portland (LOoP) is bringing yet another Gilbert and Sullivan classic, The Pirates of Penzance, to Southwest Portland, and the timing could not be better. Director Dennis Britten is a purist, and has resisted the urge to modernize the telling or the tale for contemporary audiences – but this production proves that Gilbert & Sullivan’s witty work has survived quite nicely, thank you. The 138 years since it first played on a New York stage may have brought mind-boggling changes in society, but Western culture’s fundamental foibles are still vulnerable to the same sly parody that the show’s authors wrought so many years ago.

Like all good G&S work, the core story is utterly absurd. Young Frederic (mistakenly apprenticed to a band of pirates until his 21st birthday) is coming of age, and is eager to resign from piracy and pursue a more conventional life, including the acquisition of an appropriate wife. His nursemaid Ruth, now way over the hill (Hey! When did 47 become old?), tries to convince him that she would be a great choice; Frederic’s skepticism is validated when a bevy of younger women (wards of Major-General Stanley) appear on the beach. Frederic instantly falls for the lovely Mabel, who reciprocates his ardor without hesitation. The pirates attack and undertake to forcefully wed all of the fair damsels, but the Major-General plays on the pirates’ sympathy for orphans to talk them out of it. Frederic recruits a local police force to round up the pirates, and prepares for wedded bliss. Alas – as the wedding plans are afoot, it is discovered that Frederic was born on February 29th, a leap year, and that his 21st birthday will not come around until 1930 – until then he must remain a pirate. Mabel swears to wait for him. After a loud, blusteringly bloodless battle between the tender hearted pirates and the cowardly police, everything gets sorted out nicely – Gilbert and Sullivan’s stories may not make literal sense, but they definitely leave no unresolved plotlines.

Light opera demands a powerful and precise vocal ensemble, and Musical Director Linda Smith has brought out the best in a large (29 actors), experienced, and proficient cast, many of them veterans of previous LoOP productions. The six principal cast members (Jason Weed as the Pirate King, Phyllis Fort as Ruth, Jacob Mott as Frederic, Lindsey Lefler as Mabel, Ron Swingen as the Major-General, and Laurence Cox as the Sergeant of Police) carry a lot of the show, but they are well-supported by the rest of the cast and the superb little orchestra (Amanda Lyons’ flute work is especially evocative). Each group (pirates, policemen, and wards) forms a separate vocal ensemble for many of the songs, but they integrate beautifully together for the largest production numbers.

Among the principals, Lefler (as always) stands out in her ability to wander around looking wide-eyed and innocent while delivering a flawless coloratura soprano performance. Her counterpart, LOoP newcomer Mott, is that rare trained tenor who can really act, not to mention being more than easy on the eyes. Weed is superbly cast as The Pirate King – his huge physical presence is mirrored by his huge bass baritone delivery, and the beard alone would sell the character. Fort is hilarious as an over-the-hill wanna-be ingénue playing at being coy and winsome, and Swingen manages to recite his tongue-twisting lines just the right touch of dithering, effete pomposity. Finally, Cox is terribly fun to watch as he vacillates between false bravado and temerity, and he delivers strong lead vocals plus a solid foundation for his team’s ensemble numbers.

The stage at the Multnomah Arts Complex is large enough to accommodate the cast nicely, even when they are all performing at the same time. The large, cartoon-like props help by providing hiding places for various cohorts throughout the show, and they help to set a lighthearted tone for the production. Costumes are remarkably authentic – the program indicates that, as with the set, it took a village to gather up the right stuff.

Once Pirates closes, you won’t have the opportunity to experience the utterly absurd yet aesthetically spine-tingling magic of LoOP’s performers until late September, so treat yourselves to the fun of light opera while you can!


Light Opera of Portland’s Pirates of Penzance plays at the Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Highway, Portland through Sunday, March 5th, with performances Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Inlaws are Outlaws

Mark Putnam, Blaine Vincent III, and Jean Christensen.
Nicole Mae Photography


By Tina Arth

HART Theatre is honoring Hillsboro with the U.S. premiere of My Inlaws Are Outlaws, an utterly absurd and genuinely funny new play by prolific New Zealand playwright Devon Williamson.  Based on my own reaction and the opening night audience response, I suspect that I will see more of Williamson’s work in local theaters – he has a comic sensibility that is a perfect antidote to the anxiety overload many of us are feeling these days. Director Paul Roder and his cast obviously had a great time putting this production together, and the result is a consistently entertaining, lighthearted mixture of physical comedy and dark humor. The story is extremely quirky, and might be just a little too silly if played as a farce. Luckily, Roder and cast opted to play each role completely straight, allowing the absurdity of the script to earn the laughs.

Newlywed Dane is the black sheep of the gangster Black clan, having rejected the family’s wicked ways, gone straight, and married Annie, an innocent librarian orphaned years earlier. Rather than tell Annie about his unsavory roots, Dane has lied and claimed to also be an orphan – until he is summoned home by his mother Audrey, the current matriarch of the gang. In the Black family, these invitations are not optional, so he drags his unsuspecting bride to the family homestead where she meets not only Audrey, but also the murderous Grandma, senile Granddad, and Dane’s seriously stupid sister Desiree (whose Welsh accent seems out of place until she explains that she has joined Greenpeace and is now intent on saving Wales). Dane is dragged to a family meeting off-site, leaving Annie to cope with a series of unusual assassins – Russian Natalya, Irish Finn and Donal, and the deadly Rosa Botticello, an Italian nonagenarian with a bad heart and an evil eye. Given the number of assassins on site, there is not much killing – in fact, the only actual death turns out to be quite accidental.

The uniformly solid cast delivers some really superb moments. Dalene Young is hilarious in both her roles (as Grandma and as Rosa Botticello). Young’s irrational outbursts and unstoppable trigger finger keep the family hopping (often literally) as Grandma, and her silent physical comedy as Botticello is a joy to watch. Patti Speight’s almost (but not quite) over-the-top Russian accent matches the unpredictable intensity of her delivery – sort of like Natasha Fatale (from Rocky and Bullwinkle) on steroids. Mark Putnam (as senior Irish assassin Finn) has a believable Irish accent and the gravitas of a real pro killer. Blaine Vincent III (as Finn’s son Donal) rivals Desiree for the title of stupidest character; he and Putnam form a really fine comic duo that snag many of the show’s biggest laughs.

However, the real star of the show is Jean Christensen (Annie). Her transformation from Act I’s meekly clueless young bride to Act II’s brilliantly crafty manipulator is carried out so subtly that, at first, we don’t even realize what’s happening, and her interactions (with Natalya, Finn, and especially Donal) make the second act a nonstop delight.

Set designers William Crawford and Paul Roder have filled the entire stage with the Black living room, giving ample space for numerous entrances and exits (including Donal’s beloved window) and creating a cheerfully lower-middle class ambience. Heather Sutherland’s lighting creates an outdoor effect when needed without the complications of scene changes, thus keeping the action flowing seamlessly.

Despite the frequent laughs, Act I does seem to drag at times – it is significantly longer than Act II, and perhaps would benefit from faster pacing to compensate. This slight problem is no excuse, however, for missing a U.S. premiere – Hillsboro owes HART a big thank-you for taking the risk of presenting an unknown show, and the community should turn out in droves to support it. There is enough violence and strong language that it should probably be viewed as PG-13, rather than G, rated.


My Inlaws are Outlaws is playing at the HART Theatre, 185 SE Washington, Hillsboro through February 26th, with performances at 7:30 on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:00 on Sundays.