Trevor at the Artists Repertory Theater
When I first read reviews that Trevor was a play about a chimpanzee I thought, “This sounds really stupid.” I envisioned a cartoonish ape saying cute things while the audience giggles and adores this animal who is so seemingly human. Boy, was I wrong. Instead I discovered an intense drama about a monkey who is struggling to retain his animal identity and instincts in a world that wants him to be further evolved than he is capable of being.
According to Playwright, Nick Jones, Trevor was inspired by the 2009 mauling of a woman by a chimpanzee named, Travis. As a local celebrity of a town in Connecticut, Travis was able to open doors using keys, log onto a computer, watch TV using a remote, and even drive a car. He had also been in TV commercials. His owner, Sandra, considered Travis as somewhat of a surrogate child following the deaths of her husband and son. And, despite signs of increasing aggression as the chimp matured, no one considered Travis to be a public safety risk.
John San Nicolas, as Trevor the chimp, is surprisingly convincing as a chimpanzee with an identity crisis. His characterization evokes sympathy, sadness, and confusion as he struggles with a public who seem to love him, as long as he is something other than who he really is or wants to be. Sandra, played by Sarah Lucht is equally compelling as the loving but clueless pet owner who keeps making excuses for Trevor’s normal innate maturation. Sandra has projected so much humanity onto her pet, that she denies her animal’s natural instincts. When Trevor behaves the way a chimpanzee is supposed to behave, he is punished for misbehaving, adding to the animal’s identity confusion and frustration.
The play also examines the influence of society upon the tragedy that eventually unfolds. The public policy, celebrity, and human emotion that enable such tragedies to occur. While there are lighthearted moments, this play is intense and that is what I loved about it. Even though the subject matter is wildly (no pun intended) original, it feels very authentic and real to the audience. It was one of those performances where the audience appeared emotionally spent after the play was over, because we felt we had just endured a true tragedy. This was one of the most engrossing performances I have seen in the last year and I highly recommend seeing Trevor.
I am not a huge fan of the overall design of the Artists Repertory Theater. While I love its intimate feel and sound system, the aisles are narrow with little leg room and the rows are steep. One must pay close attention while shifting or crossing/uncrossing one’s legs or you are likely to kick the head of the person seated in front of you. When you stand, hold onto your own seat because the seat in front of you is situated too low to provide any support. I always feel as if I am about to topple forward whenever I stand or walk along the rows of this theater and that is without any alcohol!
Oftentimes when we are out and about exploring the drinking and dining scene of Portland, I wonder: How do people afford this? Portland’s organic produce and artisanal intoxicants often come at a hefty price. Thank goodness for places like Dots where one can still get a beer for $2-3 and appetizers for as low as $3. Dots offers a full bar with inventive cocktails for $7-12. Their food menu is wonderfully expansive for picky eaters like me. For $7.50, I had the hefty portioned Burrito Bowl which was delicious.
If an architect was creating a cafe and bar while under the influence of hallucinogens, the result would be Dots. The ambiance at Dots is dark, funky, and fun with gaudy velvet wallpaper and pictures of Elvis, Spock, and other pop culture heroes, donning the walls. Our service was friendly and the food arrived quickly considering the crowd that ensued. This is incredibly good grub for the price and a fun, though loud, place to hang out.
Trevor is at the Artists Respiratory Theater as we like to call it. I like seeing plays at ARY|T as they are often interesting and thought provoking productions, not the usual feel good crap we see with movies. Unlike a lot of ‘art’ where I leave feeling either unsatisfied or manipulated, I usually leave an ART show and think about the production for the next several days. Even if I did not like the play, they do make an impression.
Trevor is an unusual play, based on a tragic real story of a chimp who was treated like one of the family. Always a bad idea to treat wild animals as one of the family.
It is cleverly staged as Trevor, the chimp, talks to the audience in normal english as does his owner, but the two only understand, and misunderstand, each other through sign language. The disconnect between what is said and what heard is the origin of the conflict and humor, in the play as in life.
Trevor is, among other things, a frustrated actor, who, after a brief period of public acclaim, can no longer land an acting job.
It is a story about the fleeting nature of fame, the needs of people for someone, or something, to love, and how we tend to invest too much emotion and human characteristics into our animals and pets.
Don’t get me started on dog owners. Really, just because you can bring you damn companion dog into the hospital doesn’t mean you need to bring your damn companion dog into the hospital. You really can go for a hour without the company of your pathogen laden animal.
The play is well acted, especially the two who play the chimps, Trevor and Oliver. It must be a physically taxing role, and I tried walking like a chimp for a few minutes today and it wore me out.
The only problem I have with the play is the cost 50 bucks a ticket. Was it a 100 dollars plus fees worth of entertainment? No. I can see why the theater was only half full and mostly with older people with disposable income. 100 bucks can buy a nice dinner and a movie for two. I know theater has more overhead and it is a shame more people do not go, but at those prices I can see why. Post5 will be 20 a ticket and I do not find the acting or productions are any worse.
It you are in an income bracket that can spend a hundred bucks on a fun, unusual, funny, tragic and thoughtful production I would recommend Trevor.
After Trevor we went back to Mucca Osteria to see if it is good as we thought the first time Short answer: yes
Intimate, romantic, with impeccable service.
The drinks? Two riffs on a Manhattan that were different and delicious.
The food? A caprese salad, followed by venison ravioli followed by a semifreddo (my favorite character in the Godfather) with cookie crumbles. All three scrumptious and the kind of food that defines Italian.
This is our favorite Italian restaurant, a trifecta of food, service and ambience. I only have one complaint. I wish they had a few local beers, either on tap or in the bottle, rather than the Italian beers which are meh. There is, I suppose, a reason Italy is not known for their beer.
It was a busy weekend for art. We saw Hughie at the Imago theater for its penultimate performance, so little to say except it was an interesting and well acted one act play by Eugene O’Neal. But afterwards we were hungry.
It is a divvy place with a dark red light diner vibe and velvet pictures on the wall. It has quite an eclectic clientele, from hipsters to bikers and I can see why.
The food and drinks are inexpensive but well made and delicious. I started with the Natalie Would, which I wanted to try as it contained St. Germiane Elderberry Flour Liquor, which I have had in the past as an ice cream. It was delicious but a bit sweet for my tastes. So I had a IPA with dinner. 4 bucks a pint. And a pint of PBR for 2 bucks.
I had the night’s special, a perfectly cooked catfish po boy with a large side of crunchy fries.
It was crowded but despite the crowd it was not too loud to talk; they have good sound proofing with the velvet walls. The service looked underwomaned with 2, but they really hustled so I never felt ignored and the food and drinks came quickly after the order.
Inexpensiv,e fast and delicious in a slightly off beat atmosphere (at least for geezer). One of my residents told me that the brunch is also good. So I have two reasons to go back.