Far Away

From the Oregonian’s “Is It Art?” blog
by TJ Norris
Sunday, February 5, 2006

Swept downtown it was Liminal Performance Group’s Far Away that took the night. A sporadic and twisted tale in three parts that was visually arresting in the patchwork space of the 70s-wreaking Goldsmith Building, which is slowly making its transformation into a multimedia arts facility, home to Portland Art Center. But on Saturday night the audience chose (by way of hand written ballot) to flock with one of three species, starlings, deer or cats, all reflected back in the forthcoming work. All four lead actors had strong characters with the young Joan (Hallie Blashfield) taking the most kudos for a girl, most probably under 12, who was powerfully courageous in a story that dealt with secrets, abuse and questionable parentals. She’s confidant, quizzical and doesn’t take her aunt Harper’s (Jennifer Olson) word for truth. She’s the doubt, the foil, the innocence.  Far Away combined interesting video projected visuals across a narrowly elongated and block-long stage set with moving fabric panels. The sound combined spooky ambience and electronic blips and sharp detonations.

Part two, set in a hat factory, introduces two characters, the slightly terse Joan (Madeleine Sanford) and the handsomely matter-of-fact Todd (Jeff Marchant) meet and share dreams of career climbing in their industry, building avant-garde costume hats. They build a lovely tension, up and down stage, coy combo. They dance, hint at romance, and are oddly upstaged by a parade of a cast of extras in art hats that seems like filler, but looks great. With the hutspah of say, a pre-pubescent Bill T. Jones this crew walks into our face and offsite stage left. In the final scene we are again confronted with the tribulations and realities of Todd and Harper but this scene seems drawn out and less constructed than the previous two, repetitive by nature of the cultural paranoia they rattle on about - races and fear. It’s all cut up staccato-style (which rings well), but the pseudo Philip Glass sound interlude seems slightly derivative. Hey, I am no theater critic, but this is what I was served, momma! Though, the performances of Marchant and Blashfield were strong, clear and multi-dimensional, the other two were also quite good, but more in a supporting light. And they offered free complimentary Typhoon appetizers, drinks (at least for the audience members who chose to be deer), and members of the cast valeting visitors through the vast building space, through hallways and down a way cool rugged-interior service elevator. It was a trip. [Through February 18th.]