Roger and the Cave Monster can be summed up in four words: hipster version of Nell. Unfortunately, the rest of this column must be filled, so read on if you need the particulars.
Three predictably dysfunctional twentysomethings are lost in a cave. They've gone spelunking for the day, despite the fact that none of them has any particular knowledge in the ancient field of cave exploring. They get lost. They find a feral girl (Daria Lisandrelli) living in the cave. She shows them how to get out of the cave. They take her home with them and she hides under the table. One of the twentysomethings, Roger (Scott Fullerton), develops a crush on the cave girl, despite the fact that when she tries to talk it sounds like she is having some sort of fit. Roger denies that he wants to turn the girl into his "fuck puppet," but when we find out that he's never even kissed a girl, it's hard to believe him.
But the play isn't about Roger's creepy attraction to the cave girl (who's definitely a looker, but come on, she's a cave girl), it's more about the relationship between Roger's callous brother, Dave (Dominic Holiday) and his girlfriend, Lisa (played with far too much intelligence by Kristen Martz—there is no way this woman would ever date this man, even if he is a "demon in the sack," as we are informed). Dave is the bad guy, because Dave thinks it's a bad idea to let the cave girl live under their table, and he's also unenthused about the plan to use stuffed animals to teach her how to talk. I agree with Dave.
While the actors do a fine job with their material, bringing familiar character types to engaging life, the brand-new Portland Ensemble Theatre Company's choice of material is rather... dismal. Playwright Craig Jessen has a knack for dialogue and a sharp take on interpersonal relationships, and it's unfortunate that he felt the need to constrain his obvious talent with such a forced narrative. The plot is just silly, and not in a fun way. Portland ETC seems dedicated to presenting new works by local playwrights, which is great in theory—here's hoping that in the future, they spend a bit more time in the workshopping stages.