Local musical sends up gay-hating, gay culture

Theatrical exposures
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  May 12, 2011

tji_shameless_main

Reverend Jonathan Fisher (Michael Tobin), founder of Straight and Narrow, an evangelical congregation meant to "cure" homosexuals, has a problem: He is about to run for public office (in order to, in his off-the-record words, "save the world from sniveling little faggots"), but his campaign is threatened by whispers in the press about the sexual orientation of his aide Adam (Bartley Mullin), who embraced the Church as a rejection of his flamboyant dad Jeremy (Jonathan Carr). Obviously, the surest solution is to get Adam safely hitched, so Jonathan decides to marry him off to Ruth Millay (Megan Jackson), a "former" lesbian in the congregation. What could possibly foil such a plan?

Enter a serum that eliminates shame, concocted by Adam's own dad (who also happens to be a Nobel laureate). So begins the situational comedy of local writer Jason Wilkins's pop musical Shameless (Shane Van Vliet accompanies live on piano, with Wilkins on acoustic guitar). Everyone drinks, including Reverend Jonathan and his wife, who is also named Ruth (Cathy Counts), and over two acts of Shameless, various kinds of love are found, renounced, and/or re-found. The show has its world premiere as part of Mad Horse Theatre Company's Dark Night Series, under the direction of Peter Brown.

Shameless is sometimes wittily satirical — reporter Steve Scopes (Benjamin Row), for example, works for Fix News ("News: It breaks, we fix it"). More often, the show's humor is slap-happy and/or outright horny in its humor — at one point, Jonathan and Adam ironically sing a song called "Thank God for Sodomy." Once Adam connects with his homosexuality, glad appreciations of fine asses and cocks abound. Wilkins is ecumenical in his poking, and has as much fun with the gay-rights movement (the flaming chemist Jeremy sings an anthem about "all kinds of love" in a tinseled tunic and a pink boa, harkening wistfully back to ancient Athens) as he does with the fervid Reverend.

The issues at the heart of Shameless are serious, of course, and the show also spends a lot of time, and a lot of songs, in earnest emotional mode, rounding out even its most obviously unlikable character. Tobin does a nice job with the Reverend's furor and frustration, and also has a strong singing voice, as does Jackson as Ruth. Mullin and Row, as Adam and Scopes, have lesser voices but are appealingly sprightly as actors, and Counts is sympathetic as Mrs. Reverend. The show as a whole feels slower, and its lyrics more boilerplate, in the earnest moments, but its feel-good — if far-fetched — conclusion makes for a rousing end to the evening.

SHAMELESS | by Jason Wilkins | Mad Horse's Dark Night Series, at Lucid Stage, 29 Baxter Blvd, Portland | through May 18, Mon-Wed @ 7:30 pm | pay-what-you-can | madhorse.com

  Topics: This Just In , Religion, Christianity, Peter Brown,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY MEGAN GRUMBLING
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   HOW TO DRESS A WOUND  |  October 24, 2014
    Kayleen and Doug first meet when they’re both eight years old and in the school nurse’s office: She has a stomachache, and he has “broken his face” whilst riding his bike off the school roof. Their bond, though awkward and cantankerous, is thus immediately grounded in the grisly intimacy of trauma.
  •   TRAUMATIC IRONY  |  October 15, 2014
    A creaky old oceanfront Victorian. Three adult siblings who don’t like each other, plus a couple of spouses. A codicil to their father’s will that requires them to spend an excruciating week together in the house. And, of course, various ghosts.
  •   OVEREXTENDED FAMILY  |  October 11, 2014
    “I’m inclined to notice the ruins in things,” ponders Alfieri (Brent Askari). He’s recalling the downfall of a longshoreman who won’t give up a misplaced, misshapen love, a story that receives a superbly harrowing production at Mad Horse, under the direction of Christopher Price.   
  •   SOMETHING'S GOTTA FALL  |  October 11, 2014
    While it hasn’t rained on the Curry family’s 1920’s-era ranch in far too long, the drought is more than literal in The Rainmaker .
  •   SURPASSED MENAGERIE  |  October 03, 2014
    Do Buggeln and Vasta make a Glass Menagerie out of Brighton Beach Memoirs? Well, not exactly.

 See all articles by: MEGAN GRUMBLING