Venturing Into New Theater | Culture Features | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Coverage for Central Oregon, by Central Oregonians.

The Source Weekly has been here for you, keeping you in the know throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

We’ve delivered important updates and dispatches from a summer of racial unrest.

We’ve interviewed dozens of state and local political candidates to help you make an informed decision during election season.

And we’ve brought you 22 years of important news and feature reporting—along with all the events, happenings, food, drink and outdoors coverage you’ve come to know and love. We’re a newspaper for Central Oregon, by Central Oregonians, and it is and always has been free for readers.

If you appreciate our coverage, we invite you to spread the love and to join our growing membership program, Source Insider.
Support Us Here

Culture » Culture Features

Venturing Into New Theater

CTC's The Pillowman challenges new expectations for local theater

by

comment

Cascades Theatrical Company is probably best known for staging 20th century classics, like Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, which just wrapped up an extended run. But, starting late in 2014, with a terse production of the intense 2009 Tony Award-winning God of Carnage, CTC has taken a gamble—and is hoping to push some of its patrons into more adventurous and dark zones. The theater is hosting a series of three "black box" productions, each tucked between its more elaborate and mainstream productions.

Held in the same space, these black box productions are shorter runs (just one weekend) and staged in a more dressed-down production. Moreover and most notably, CTC has chosen scripts for these productions that are a bit more daring and dark.

The first play, God of Carnage, is an uncomfortable examination of modern-day parenting. And its third out of the three, Venus in Fur, is a sexual and playful script that could make 50 Shades of Grey blush.

This middle play, which has a four consecutive night run this weekend, is The Pillow Man. If that title sounds familiar, it is because surprisingly the play was also staged at Volcanic Theatre late last year. (The backstory for the reasons for these competing productions, depending on who tells you the "facts," has enough drama to stage its own production about crosstown theater rivals, but for our purposes, let's focus on the current production at CTC.)

The Pillowman is a dark story about a short story writer, Katurian, in an unnamed totalitarian state. Some of his stories involve the gruesome torture and murder of young children—and, even stranger, as Katurian quickly finds out in Scene One, some of the more gruesome fictions seemingly have become fact as three young children have been murdered. Written by U.K. playwright Martin McDonagh, in 2005 it was nominated for a Tony.

At two-plus hours running time, the rehearsal I attended was tedious at times, re-trending some of the more obvious themes. It is, after all, gruesome subject matter—a story about child abuse and three brutal murders of young children. But it is easy to get caught up in those gratuitous moments. Instead, the real charm is recognizing that the story itself is about storytelling and, moreover, in spite of the dark mood, there are moments of true tenderness, especially in the scene between Katurian and his mentally and emotionally disabled brother.

Also noteworthy is the character Ariel, a gorilla of a police officer. The character—extremely well played by Brad Thompson—is a menacing presence on stage, but also adds a somewhat perversely welcome comic tone.

And, most broadly, CTC's black box series is an immensely welcomed addition to Central Oregon's theater scene, venturing past the tried-and-true into bold new theater and challenging theater-goers to stretch their comfort zones.

The Pillowman

Cascades Theatrical Company, 148 NW Greenwood

7:30 pm, Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 19-21

2 pm, Sunday, Feb. 22

$10-$15.

About The Author

Speaking of...

Add a comment

More by Phil Busse

Latest in Culture Features