Go See This (Part XXIII), And Some Pontificating

Four men. An empty swimming pool. A beautiful, untouchable, aloof woman. Speedos. Bugles (the snack, not the instrument). A defunct barbecue.

Interested yet?

Third Rail Repertory’s production of  Penelope, by Enda Walsh, is a ninety minute roller coaster ride of beautiful words, harsh words, love, and death. It’s a look at the world from the eyes the suitors of Penelope from The Odyssey. Which means it’s a little lovesick, a little confused, and a lot scared. Scared because they know what’s coming and how their stories must end.

Go. See. This. Show.  (Click on the any of the links for Third Rail for information.) Did you buy tickets yet? Huh? How about now? Yes, you have to be in Portland. Did I neglect to mention that?

My incredible brother-in-law plays one of the suitors. He’s a founding member of Third Rail and is in at least one of their shows every season. I’ve been lucky enough to know Mike since the 5th grade, when I moved to this little town. He and I were instant friends back then, with more in common than not. We both gravitated to the theater program in high school, though he had real talent while I was just an introvert with a Shecky-complex. Mike had a number of starring roles. I had a number of forgettable chorus and non-speaking parts. We both ended up at the same university, too, though in a big college town we rarely saw each other. I married his brother. He got an MFA in Theater. I had kids. He moved to New York. I became a suburban mom. He moved back to Portland. I watched my kids grow up. He kept acting and honed his craft, started teaching and directing, and finally found the woman of his dreams.

See? We are SO much alike.

Mike’s birthday was yesterday – a big birthday, too. One I’m staring at in the fall. Given the last few months I’ve had, you’d think I would be glad to see ANY birthday come ’round. And, truthfully, I AM glad. But I’ve also become reflective on the paths taken and not taken, the choices made and those forced on us. I wouldn’t trade anything when it comes to my darling husband and amazing sprogs, but I do wish I hadn’t just kept my head down, trying to get from month to month, from day to day.

While Mike and I have very little in common now, with the exception of relatives, I still enjoy his company a great deal. He’s smart, funny, well-read, informed – generally the life of the party. Me, not so much. I find my well of potential conversation has pretty much dried up in the last ten years, and my infernal shyness has me convinced that no one would really want to talk to me. After all, what do I bring to the party? A knowledge of QuickBooks, dust bunnies, and Irish dancing? Oh, yeah, I’m David Freaking Sedaris.

So Happy Birthday, Mike. It’s been an honor to be related to you for the past *mumblemumble* years. I wish you continued, well-deserved success in your career, continued good fortune in your marriage, and a kick-ass future.

Way to rock a Speedo.

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4 Responses

  1. I would need a huge lot of tickets to get me to see this show (train, plane, bus, ice boat maybe) but I would totally be there if I could. Happy Birthday to Mike!!

  2. How fun! Happy Birthday to Mike.

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