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Friday, March 22, 2013

Weekend Theater Pick: Mother Teresa Is Dead

Posted by Alison Hallett on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM

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Portland Playhouse has been knocking it outta the park this season—I thought their production of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson was a bit rocky (word on the street is it evened out later in the run), but the teen-murder fantasy The Huntsmen was solid and King Hedley II was outstanding. Last weekend, they opened Helen Edmundson's Mother Teresa is Dead, and it's another excellent show from a company that really seems to have found its footing lately.

The show's about a white lady who goes to India to fix all of her problems. But she doesn't find meaning or a renewed sense of self, per the Eat Pray Love model; instead she basically loses her mind, and accidentally becomes tangled in a love triangle with a charismatic Indian man and a much older woman. It's a great script, willfully complex and very attuned to the racial and economic dynamics at play; and the cast boasts some strong performances, most notably an outstanding turn from Gretchen Corbett as an older, world-weary painter. (I don't love the decisions made by Nikki Weaver as the show's main character, but that's my only gripe.) My full review is here, if you need more of my opinions.

I'm also very interested to see the final show in their 2012/2013 season—they're teaming up with one of my favorite local companies, Hand2Mouth, to collaborate on an adaptation of Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness. It's not a collaboration that makes sense on paper—Hand2Mouth is known for non-narrative, ensemble-generated work, while Portland Playhouse tends to sink or swim on the strength of whatever script they've chosen. But, tis the season for unlikely teamups!

In the meantime, go see Mother Teresa Is Dead. You'll like it. Tickets n junk here.

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