Miracle Theatre, 525 SE Stark, 236-7253, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $17, only one weekend left
There are current Portland productions more "provocative" and "affecting" than the Miracle's current re-mounting of its hit show The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico, but none of them are having more fun than costars Andrew Harris and Tony St. Claire, longtime members of the 3rd Floor sketch comedy group. Patrick Scott and Aldo Velasco's script for Coca-Cola in Mexico features two filmmakers who head to Mexico to do a documentary on United States economic imperialism. A giddy brew of historical reenactments and staged documentary segments ensues, interspliced with scenes from "real life," in which Pat and Aldo interact with a small-town Mexican family, race through a multitude of different characters, and learn with chagrin the true effects of corporate meddling. Packed with trite parodies (has anyone not spoofed the opening to Laverne and Shirley?) and an endless parade of cultural stereotypes, Coca-Cola is too sophomoric to live up to the potential of its clever premise… fortunately, the performances of St. Claire and Harris trump all.
With his sweet, rubbery face, St. Claire could read his credit card statement and get laughs. He's possibly the most likeable actor in Portland, his lackadaisical charm an ideal foil to Harris, who occupies his shifting personas with a fierce intensity. Both performers elevate the material to undeserved heights, then take it to a new level with a rampant attention to ad-libbing. In one scene the night I saw the show, in which the duo pretends to be enduring a rocky jeep ride, St. Claire farted loud enough for the entire audience to hear, then asked Harris to roll down the window. In another, Harris pointed out an errant feather on the floor that had fallen off one of the many costumes. "I think it's one of your fake moustaches," St. Claire deadpanned.
Such moments add an exhilarating and unpredictable dynamic to a show that would otherwise be merely entertaining. Like any great relationship, the chemistry between these two consummate professionals is something you have to find to know how badly you were missing it.