The Bi-Polar Express
Miracle Theatre, 525 SE Stark, 258-1681, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Dec 17, $10
The latest offering from the Portland-based comedy quintet the 3rd Floor is, quoting their literature, "about loneliness, depression, boredom, babies, and the Yule log at Timberline Lodge." Expecting a hilarious sketch comedy show for cynics and Catholic priests alike, just in time for the holidays, instead I found a gifted cast with a production that was more promising than hilarious. I also found it would probably be inappropriate for priests.
The Yule log bit—showing an OPB camera crew filming hour five of the log burning—was one of the show's highlights, though most of the sketches had clever ideas: the theft of the Great Wall of China; a few grommets playing kickball on a busy street; mingling at a party with a conservative; a "where are they now" skit with Marc Singer (the original Beastmaster); not to mention a finale combining Silly String and an Enya tune. The finest segment involved a tragedy at a high school dance team competition, complete with bloody hands and a cheerleader's skirt. Besides this last one, though, none of the skits were a fucking laugh riot despite their witty premises.
The 3rd Floor cast is very capable—Jordana Barnes and Kevin-Michael Moore were particularly good, with the chameleonic Moore fluctuating effortlessly between very goofy and very creepy. Also remarkable was the troupe's willingness to wear spandex bodysuits on more than one occasion.
I started things off a bit concerned when I noticed a video screen on stage. I often find multimedia in theater (especially in comedy performance) annoying, and often unnecessary. The supplemental video in Bi-Polar, however, was well integrated. The footage (of the cast themselves in parks or on porches) serves to connect several of the seemingly unrelated sketches, adding a thread of cohesion to an otherwise patchwork evening of comedy.
In the end, though I didn't find this show uproarious (maybe my broken water bong had something to do with it?), I'd certainly attend another 3rd Floor show. They have timing, talent, the requisite drollness, and footage of high school dance team competitions.