Theatre Review: Shining City

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Third Rail Repertory continues their second season in Portland, cementing their role as Portland’s best theatre company, with Conor McPherson’s “Shining City.”

Fifty-something John (Bruce Burkhartsmeir) is haunted by his wife, recently killed in car accident, and goes to a young therapist to work it out. But it turns out the therapist, Ian (Michael O’Connell), has his own skeletons in the closet, and together they come to terms with their own failings and need of comfort and validation.

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McPherson’s script bogs down just a tad in the middle, but ultimately allows Bruce Burkhartsmeier, as John, to bring the play to a forceful emotional climax, spurring Ian to his own personal crisis.

Third Rail ensemble member Michael O’Connell turned in a journeyman’s opening night performance as Ian, and the show is enhanced by the strong performance of Val Landrum as the estranged mother of Ian’s child and Chris Harder’s nuanced portrayal of the embodiment of Ian’s inner ghost.

Under the direction of Slayden Scott Yarbrough, there can be no doubt that Third Rail has moved to the head of the class in Portland with Shining City. Third Rail is consistently producing some of the tightest, most emotional theatre around.

Now midway through their second season, the company is also reaching a new maturity in design, with a sophisticated lighting design by Don Crossley, and a scenic design by Jeff Seats that transformed the IFCC stage into a run-down Dublin loft.

Shining City
by Conor McPherson
Third Rail Repertory Theatre
Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center
5340 N. Interstate
Jan. 4 – Feb. 2, 2008
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 2pm
Talkbacks following the performance on January 13th and January 20th.
Tickets online or by phone: 503-235-1101

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