Adam Bock

Adam Bock tells a true “Life” story

One of Portland Center Stage's favorite playwrights delivers a small, surprising, perspective-shifting play in the Ellen Bye Studio.

“The truth is so hard to find, and it’s almost impossible to hold onto,” says Nate, the protagonist of A Life, a West Coast premiere at Portland Center Stage. The irony, of course, is that he is absolutely right, and thus has found the truth.

Nate (Nat DeWolf) has a great deal of world-weary wisdom to share with the audience – and share he does – as he speaks, alone in his tiny New York City apartment (on a “long long visit to this lonely place”), to those of us gathered in the Ellen Bye Studio at the Armory. It’s unclear to whom he thinks he’s speaking, but I’m not sure that matters.

What does matter is that Nate has a lot to say. “I’m not always great with quiet,” he tells us at one point. And we laugh, because we already know that. We know Nate by this point, after all. We’re friends. He shares his longings, his loneliness, his quirks and worries.

How should we couch this? Nate Martin (played by Nat DeWolf) has a mind as cluttered as his apartment, in Adam Bock’s “A Life.”
Photo: Patrick Weishampel/blankeye.tv courtesy of Portland Center Stage at The Armory.

DeWolf and playwright Adam Bock give Nate an everyman sensibility. This is a guy you know – maybe even a friend. And his worries of not being able to find anyone to love are real and raw. DeWolf  plays Nate as a bit nervous and jittery, an effect that works once you get past thinking it might be the actor flubbing instead of the character (trust me: it’s the character). This effect is heightened by the cluttered apartment couch and table at the center of the Ellen Bye stage.

DeWolf makes you care deeply for Nate. He’s funny but sad, lonely but picky in love, waiting for his ex’s call but trying to pretend he doesn’t care. He’s so unsure of what he wants that he isn’t even sure what he’s unsure of. We want to see him find someone. We want him to be happy.

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