'Tis the season for another promising one-weekend performance. The show in question is a small, passionate affair with a promising production team behind it. If you want to see it, you have to just go see it because there's no time to wait for reviews or word of mouth. 

That's the situation you find yourself in with I’m in Control Which Means Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen to Me, the second mount of a production by PETE Presents: Portland Experimental Theater Ensemble's mentorship program, which selects projects and performing artists, and provides them with the benefit of PETE's experience and resources.

I'm in Control is a tight little temper fit of a show. I can't really review it; I only saw a rehearsal. I can say that over the course of the 45 minutes I spent sitting somewhat awkwardly in a brightly-lit basement, the piece caught me up in its drama, and its whip-crack of an ending made me feel like I was waking up from a fever dream.

It would be easy to label I’m in Control a one-woman show, since Elsa Dougherty stands front and center before the audience, and—through a series of songs, impressions, and digressions—appears to be recounting a deeply personal rumination about her own love life.

However, Dougherty shares creative credit with the show's director Isabel McTighe and songwriting credit with the accompanying musicians: drummer Noah Mortola, keyboardist Paul Moyer, bassist John Wallent, and guitarist / music director Chris Clark Johnson. (If they look familiar, the last two were in a rising, but now defunct band called Mr. Beautiful.)

Right to left: Elsa Dougherty, Chris Clark Johnson, Paul Moyer, Noah Mortola, and John Wallent in a promo image for "I'm in Control." COURTESY OF PETE

Songs in I'm in Control vary from Rocky-Horror-esque musical number to free jazz gyration to thrumming cathartic meditation. That progression also describes the show's narrative arc, as I saw it. The conclusion comes off as epiphany, but I would argue that it's just tired of fighting for the night.

I'm in Control reminded me of bad relationships in my 20s—though those exhausting interactions were without Dougherty's clever, non sequitur impressions of a cigarette-smoking youth offering advice from the sidelines. Fans of Rocky Horror Picture Show and charismatic hot messes, in general, will probably enjoy this short, funny piece. As I stated earlier, I saw the performance outside its proper staging, and it still worked for me. It's probably even better now.

I’m in Control Which Means Nothing Bad Will Ever Happen to Me plays at CoHo Productions, 2257 NW Raleigh through Sun Dec 17, 7:30 pm, $10-$30, tickets here, includes swearing and discussions of sex.