Stage Invasion! 

Badass Theatre's Exciting Debut

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BADASS THEATRE COMPANY is a brand-new operation. I am going to say this once, and I am never going to say it again: I hate the name, it makes me think of a little kid trying to give himself his own nickname ("My friends call me Ninja Joey!"), and I hope it's shortened to BAT sooner rather than later.

And that's all the criticism I can muster, because Badass' production of Swedish playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri's Invasion! is excellent. The show's voice is fresh and funny, the subject matter relevant and challenging, and Badass' four-person ensemble deft and very funny in juggling multiple roles and multiple characters through a series of interlocking vignettes focused on a Zelig-like figure called "Abulkasem."

This show couldn't work if the ensemble wasn't up to balancing humor and pathos, but they very much are. Gilberto Martin Del Campo pulls triple duty as a flamboyant Lebanese man, a TV talk-show moderator, and a beaten-down apple picker, switching gears remarkably quickly between three distinct, fully realized characters. But it's John San Nicolas who's in the unenviable position of making or breaking this show: Much of the humor is in his hands, and so are some of key emotional beats. Nicolas more than makes it, injecting the show with relaxed, natural humor that never feels forced, and sealing the deal with a riveting closing monologue.

I frequently complain that Portland theater has both an accessibility problem and a diversity problem. With Invasion!, Badass Theatre addresses both and I hardly noticed, because my pet issues were dispatched in the service of a damn good show.

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