Deep into Conor McPherson’s St. Nicholas
, our devilish, graying narrator is engulfed by the irresistible spell of otherworldly figures, swept into their London mansion of dark wood paneling and blood-red carpets. He’s in the home of vampires. But it’s Ted Roisum’s stirring performance that casts the real spell, creating an impeccable theatrical reflection on what it means to be human. This is Roisum’s third time asking a Portland audience what distinguishes critics from vampires. He performed St. Nicholas
with CoHo Productions in 1999 and three years later in San Diego. But this revival, directed by Gemma Whelan, is the first full production for fledgling Corrib Theatre, which is on a mission to bring Irish drama to Portland. With nothing but a cocktail table and stool, Roisum’s thunderous voice and claylike facial expressions guide the audience through a sumptuously visual tale. It begins, as in all respectable Irish writing, with a bleak and despairing Dublin populated by writers on the precipice of liquor-induced self-destruction. A theater critic in his late 50s looms perpetually drunk and self-important above his fellow writers. When sudden infatuation with an actress, aptly named Helen, reduces him to an obsessive Romeo, he takes his whiskey bottle and abandons Dublin to woo the long-legged chimera in London. Instead, vampires woo the fallen critic into their patronage. Like Lucifer’s bellhop, he is entrusted the task of delivering bright young things to nightly feasts at the vampire mansion. Roisum makes it all tangible: the shadows dancing around Helen’s sinewy ankles, the smell of over-ripe fruit in the vampires’ backyard, the beer-tinged irony of a critic’s desire to please. Just like that, Ireland’s black comedy has found a niche in Portland.
112 SW 2nd Ave.Website: corribtheatre.org