DanceWatch Weekly: Echo’s otherworldly dance for all

I recently spent three marvelous hours watching Echo Theater Company members negotiate a system of harnesses, ropes, and pulleys to move a butterfly with gigantic opalescent wings and a mad, spiky hermit crab-like monster around a stage. The atmosphere was electric: it was exciting to watch the collective synapses fire as the company, in an […]

‘Just This One’ review: staging the blues

At the Fertile Ground Festival performance of Just This One, a jukebox musical based on the eventful life of late Portland bluesman Paul deLay, I went to a play and a great blues concert broke out. I never got to hear deLay, who died in his native Portland in 2007, live. Having devoted way too […]

‘Rosa Red’ and ‘Spellbinders’ reviews: staging history

Putting history on stage can be challenging when the figures aren’t well known. Playwrights must provide much historical context, and after months or years of researching their lives, it can be hard to maintain audience perspective. Two of this year’s Fertile Ground Festival plays by Portland writers involving historical figures from the early 20th century […]

4X4 review: quality quartet

An agitated, hooded man angrily approaches a Transportation Security Administration agent at an airport security station, demanding to know what they’re doing to his son. Violence seems likely to erupt any moment. That was the arresting opener of Contraband, the opening play in Fertile Ground‘s 4X4: a Collection of One Acts. Produced by PDX Playwrights, the […]

‘Living Things’ review: animating the everyday

Not all the characters in Archie Washington’s enchanting new musical Living Things are, strictly speaking, alive. Carnival bowling pins that get knocked over and set back up again over and over; components of a science fair rocket; a robot Mars lander and its orbital companion; a decommissioned rocking horse in a doomed shopping mall— all […]