Jackson, a consummate storyteller, recently moved back to Bend after performing original material for three years in England. In a riveting hour and a half, he creates a world that is nearly incomparable in its originality. I would say, think Garrison Keillor - if Keillor was cool - combined with Lewis Carroll at his Jabberwocky best, but even this analogy fails to capture the touching strangeness of Tintar Isle.
Jackson weaves a surreal tapestry of vignettes about a man named Elton who lives in a house without clocks. There is Zachary, who raises a contraband French hen in a room at the Destiny Palms Hotel by bribing a "big-bottomed maid with chocolate." Meet Teddy, a new practitioner of telekinesis, who longs to harness the power to move his wife's coffee pot across the kitchen to disastrous results as Saint-Saëns' "The Swan" lilts its haunting cello over the room.
Jackson mesmerizes the audience of his one-man show with a never-ending repertoire of voices, and both subtle and bombastic gestures across the stark stage. That edge-of-your-seat, hold-on-for-the-ride feeling never wanes through Jackson's performance. On Tintar Isle, grown men lament the imminent demise of rock candy, an alien makes a precocious road trip companion, a friendship blossoms between Gutty the Bunny and Muddy Cat over a whisker-furrowing discussion of a wall calendar.
While Tintar Isle borders on the indefinable, Jackson's humanity shines in his writing and storytelling. With a nearly insidious verve and a bravado tempered by unsentimental sweetness, Jackson makes us care about the Eltons and the Zacharys and even the Stubby Motherlovers of both Tintar Isle and of our own world.
When the lights came on at the end of the show, I felt a longing to find out if the family of bats outside Elton's window were, in fact, vampires and needed to know what happens to Donner and Dribble. I also wondered if that French hen is still pecking at seed on the 77th floor of the Destiny Palms with, no doubt, the best view of Tintar Isle.
And, as the Stubby Motherlover implores, "Who at least doesn't want to visit" someplace like that?
8:30pm doors, 9:30pm show, Friday, September 18. Cascades Theatrical Company, 148 NW Greenwood Ave. $5. 21 and over.