Hey, Mercury reader. Put down the pipe, throw on your favorite ironic T-shirt, and get out to see Action Adventure Theatre's Fall of the House. The serialized, improvised soap opera follows the lives of a handful of twentysomething Portlanders as they navigate their friendships, affairs, and shared living arrangements. It's not high art, and it's not terribly challenging—but it's a hell of a lot of fun.
Even if you missed the first couple of "seasons" or the first "episode" of this round, it's easy to get caught up. They live together, they move. They joke, they fight. They smoke, they drink, they flirt, they fuck. It's nothing new, but it's totally relatable—and hilarious. The Action Adventure players are sharp, funny, and completely open and unpretentious.
Each episode has an outline and direction for the plot points the ensemble has to hit over the course of the hour-long show. But otherwise, it's mostly improvised, with each player reacting in real time to the scene around them. And since they're just playing heightened versions of themselves or people they know, they hit their marks with an honesty and exactness that makes it seem like you're right there in the room with them. The first episode saw an extended riff on the joys of Halloween party shopping at big-box stores in the suburbs, an absolutely genius "sexy businessman" costume, and a not-so-subtle "Vote Obama" message. It also featured a lovers' quarrel by cell phone, a drunken pass that ends in unconsciousness, and friends who try to keep their fucking a secret so a former flame won't find out.
The ensemble plays off of each other with an incredible ease and comfort, allowing each individual to shine. There isn't a bad actor in the bunch, though Aubrey Jessen as Julie and Kevin Crooks as Addison really stood out during Episode One. (Full disclosure: Mercury Food Editor Patrick Alan Coleman is a cast member.) What's most exciting, though, is that with three episodes left to go in this round, there are characters we haven't even seen yet and there will be a different focus each week. With a local soundtrack (with one slight digression into Erasure), local references you've probably made yourself, and a local cast who know exactly what they're talking about, Fall of the House is a Portland show through and through. Go see it.