New House Theatre, 628 SE Mill, (971) 563-4284, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through May 21, $10 sug. donation
Back before I was alienated from the theater community due to my role as a critic, I was a theater artist myself, and I had a project idea that I was in love with: to produce a play in my living room. It never materialized, but now, I can live vicariously through the fledgling New House company, who, with their production of Wallace Shawn's Marie and Bruce, have unwittingly stolen my idea. I'd be mad, but I'm not sure I could have done it better myself.
Marie and Bruce depicts a day in the life of a massively dysfunctional couple (Carolyn DeLorenzo and Brian Adrian Koch) and occurs primarily at a house party, a perfect setting for a production that is literally in a house, and a perfect platform for Shawn to meander through his signature bits of randomly brilliant conversation. Kaas-Lentz and Co. use their space with innovative economy, moving organically throughout the house without drawing attention away from the words. When the party begins, double doors open up onto an actual party, with guests mingling, drinking, and looking at art on the walls. It's a simple approach that produces very real, vibrant results.
In a play called Marie and Bruce, the leads, naturally, are key. After a wild, rocky start that I attribute to opening night nerves, DeLorenzo came into her own as the manic, obscenity-spewing Marie, who is so unfulfilled dating Bruce she screams insults at him and dreams about making love to a dog. Adrian Koch was her perfect foil as the clueless Bruce, rambling on about other women he's fucked in a relentless self-satisfied drone, and deflecting her steady berating with blank looks and dopey grins. Other talented cast members delivered Shawn's surreal conversational ramblings with admirable subtlety and aplomb, teetering between topics like child literacy and uncontrollable diarrhea without skipping a beat.