Archive for February 2018

“Peerless” at Arts West

“Peerless” at Arts West

“Peerless,” written by Jiehae Park, is described by many as a dark comedy. It’s all about the angst and murderous competition today to get into one’s college of choice, especially if applications are being made only to the very top ranked schools in the nation. It’s an interesting concept, and reviews of previous productions of the play are laudatory. Unfortunately I found this production to be somewhat cartoonish.

The central characters are high achieving twin Asian girls out to get early admission to “the college,” think one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. They will do anything to achieve their goal and that includes knocking off any serious competitor. For that reason, the play as produced in other cities has been likened to “Macbeth.” Again, I found that to be a bit of a stretch, but there it is. The “mean girls” meet “Macbeth” just didn’t resonate for me on this stage as it apparently has elsewhere in the country.

Direction here is provided by Sara Porkalob, one of Seattle’s stars in the firmament of new Seattle talent. Working with scenic designer Reiko Huffman they’ve created a minimalist set. There’s a central riser in front, a stage-long platform in the rear. Floating oblong panels lined up equidistant from one another form the backdrop. It works.

Maile Wong plays “l” (get it, “El”?) and Corinne Magin plays her sister “M” (get it “Em”?). Christopher Quilici as “D” is the Native American who represents the greatest threat to the sisters in their quest for admission to the nation’s most respected university.

The show has been extremely popular with young people who are now enduring or recently have endured the horrors of college admissions. It’s a theme to which they can readily relate.

Through Feb. 11 at Arts West, 4711 California Ave., SW, Seattle,

“You Are Right, If You Think” Presented by Theatre 9/12

Theatre 9/12 is one of Seattle’s outstanding treasures that not enough people know about. It’s an Actor’s Equity Association Members’ project directed by Charles Waxberg whose purpose is to assist Seattle actors through workshops and performances in developing their talents and skills.

The company presents three or four plays a year in the Trinity Episcopal Church auditorium on First Hill, offering them at a pay-what-you-will price. I’ve attended most of their productions over the past few years, and there has only been a one that I wouldn’t recommend. It’s inevitably great theatre by good actors, presented modestly. You’ll find the actors in this current play live up to the standards set in past productions.

The show is Luigi Pirandello’s “You Are Right, If You Think” as adapted and directed by Waxberg. Pirandello, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1934, is noted for his marvelously funny yet intellectually rich explorations of “truth.”

Truth is illusive he reminds us, It depends on what you hear, how you interpret it, and what baggage you bring to the issue. On stage his characters are inevitably embroiled in mishaps resulting from their conflicting certainties about what the truth is. In this play the characters can’t even agree on whether one of them is dead or alive.

Pirandello’s work is always filled with memorable lines like, “The more facts you have, the less you know.” “Maybe there are infinite truths in our imagination.” And then again, maybe the only truth that matters is what we believe. Yet think of the horrors whole societies have endured because of false beliefs. Oh the subject is so rich. Pirandello is a master in his explorations of it, and Waxberg’s adaptation and production seem particularly relevant in this our age of “fake news.”

Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 P.M. through February 25, Matinees Feb. 10, 18, and 25 at 2:00 P.M., Trinity Episcopal Church, 609 Eighth Ave., Seattle.