PORTLAND'S STAND-UP SCENE is in the midst of what could conceivably be described as a renaissance, but sketch (i.e., scripted) comedy is still limping along with only a few shows a year. (Remember when Portland had a Sketchfest? Oh, those were the days.) Last weekend, Post5 Theatre leapt into the sketch comedy fray with Death/Sex, a fundraiser for the company's ongoing mission to provide low-cost theater to the Montavilla neighborhood.
Milepost 5's atmosphere is uncannily collegiate: A casual café serves food and drinks (boozy drinks, though, unlike your college's dining hall), and a chapel has been converted into a performance space, albeit one with terrible sightlines. The sketches themselves—all on the themes of sex and, you guessed it, death—are confidently directed and paced, and Post5's performers are able and gung-ho. The writing, though, just isn't particularly sharp—gags about clerical errors in purgatory got a laugh from a rowdy opening-night crowd, but probably deserved closer to a sad trombone noise. And as much as I hate to admit it, by the time intermission rolled around (at 11:30 pm!) I couldn't keep my eyes open, and for the first time in my career I broke the #1 rule of theater criticism by not sticking around for the whole show.
The show marks Post5 Theatre's first foray into "non-classically based text," though not their first into comedy—last year saw The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged. Death/Sex reveals an ensemble that's capable, but writing weak enough that perhaps they should stick to the classics.