Solo performers dig deep for revealing results
Two Seattle solo shows feature performers who dig deep into their pasts — with revealing results
Seattle Times theater critic
'Frontier,' 'Runt of the Litter'
• "Frontier: Valley of the Shadow" plays Friday-Saturday through Oct. 10 at New City Theatre, 1404 18th Ave., Seattle. $15. Reservations recommended: (800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com).
• "Runt of the Litter" plays Tuesday-Sunday through Oct. 11 at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle. $10-$55. (206-292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).
In two current Seattle stage shows, performers delve into their own family backgrounds, with intense, revealing results.
"Frontier: Valley of the Shadow" (New City Theater)
Kali is one mother of a Hindu deity. This consort of Shiva is a goddess of both destruction and fertility, a deity with four arms and a lolling tongue. She's fearsome and loving, a ferocious imago of time, life and death.
Kali is also the narrator of actor-writer Ki Gottberg's "Frontier: Valley of Death," a fervent new solo piece developed for New City Theater with its director, John Kazanjian. Though Gottberg has mined her own experiences in earlier shows, "Frontier" is an unusually intimate and direct memoir: a sensuous, often mesmerizing account of a complex family saga.
In impressionistic stories, framed by utterances from Kali, Gottberg spoofs her young, hedonistic self and conveys the immigrant saga of her parents: a World War II tale of a German Jewish salesman with keen survival instincts, and a sweetly naive Indian woman, who sought a better life in a distant land of promise.
The marriage, like many such cross-cultural unions forged in dramatic times, falters. But it produces two daughters (including Ki), who grow up in a strained household, keenly aware of the precariousness and preciousness of life.
But Gottberg, who went through extraordinary measures to produce a child of her own, also shares with us her reaction of stunned agony when her daughter Vava was diagnosed with lymphoma. (Vava was one of several young cancer patients profiled in a series of Seattle Times stories in 2007.)
Expressing the anguish she felt, as her child suffered the difficult treatment for the disease, Gottberg holds nothing back. She wails, "Why me?" and wonders if the illness is some kind of judgment.
This is not subtle, nor is much else in "Frontier." And Gottberg and Kazanjian have not yet seamlessly entwined the longer, more colorful and humorous passages in the play about her parents, with the less developed passages about her own fraught parenting. (Vava, by the way, is now thriving and cancer-free.)
The in-your-face intensity of "Frontier" could use some modulating.
But the passion and vitality in Gottberg's performance, and her deep insights into the various psychological and physical "frontiers" seekers must cross, make this is a rewarding show — and a vibrant one.
"Runt of the Litter"
Bo Eason and his brother Tony Eason never faced off at Super Bowl, though they came close.
But otherwise Bo Eason's one-man Off Broadway show, now at ACT Theatre, appears to be true — in essence, anyway.
As he suits up in the locker room for a (fictional) Super Bowl game, a pumped-up Bo regales the audience with tales from a childhood devoted to one goal: becoming a pro footballer.
That meant obsessive daily workouts. It meant avoiding girls and other social distractions. It meant multiple knee injuries before he graduated from high school.
But it also meant a shot at winning the approval of his parents — an alcoholic, football-loving mother, and a father who set up Bo's all-consuming competition with his more naturally athletic brother.
Both Eason boys did become players on rival NFL teams. But in Bo's case, there was a hefty price — stripping off enough humanity to become a ruthless gladiator on the field, who'd mow down any opponent for a win.
Eason's hard-charging narrative can be rugged going if you're not a football fan. And if the macho humor in the piece makes you laugh, it definitely discomfits others.
But there's no doubt that Eason (who, after five years as a defensive safety for the Houston Oilers, forged a successful acting career), knows whereof he speaks.
And as he catalogs the culture and mindset of his former sport, he and director Larry Moss let you draw your own conclusions about football. One option: it's a mixed bag of cathartic violence and noble camaraderie. Another: it's a legitimized but vicious, ritual combat that symbolizes America at its worst.
Misha Berson: email@example.com
NEW - 7:04 PM
Toy-maker shifts gears into sculpting career
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
(Courtesy of LeMay — America's Car Museum) New LeMay exhibit to look at NASCAR LeMay — America's Car Museum in Tacoma will look at the wil...
Post a comment