Review: A Dark Sky Full of Stars

While Zolidis’ characters have plenty to say about manhood, they don’t have much to say about Brandon as a person. He is given little opportunity to speak for himself, and much of his life is a mystery to his family. After his first arrest, for fighting, he tells his father, “You don’t know how I spend my time.” Neither does the audience.

A violent death sparks an exploration of manhood in ‘A Dark Sky Full of Stars’

Review: Until the Flood

On a stage littered with stuffed animals, flowers and liquor bottles – evoking the memorial to Brown that sprang up at the site of the shooting – Orlandersmith embodies characters drawn with closely observed specificity. An elderly black woman, weary of violence and discrimination. A white teacher whose well-intentioned comments about Brown’s death alienated a black colleague. A retired cop who defends the all-white force he served on. Two black teenage boys who yearn for escape: one through college in California, the other through death.

Michael Brown shooting inspires ‘Until the Flood,’ a play about a community’s frustrations and fears

Review: Crowns

The play has a sliver of plot, following a Brooklyn teenager named Yolanda (played by Kelli Bee) who is sent to live with her grandmother in South Carolina after the death of her brother. She balks at what she sees as the stodginess of the be-hatted church ladies she meets there, but eventually comes to see that they use their hats to express their creativity, determination, and power.

‘Crowns’ musical brings joyful hymns and really cool hats to Portland Playhouse

Review: Made to Dance in Burning Buildings

The dancers are the most captivating element of Pearson’s blend of poetry, theater and movement. As Ava, Amber Bates performs alternately playful and mournful pas de deux with choreographer Jeff George (First Love). Malik Delgado, Minon Minnieweather and Ian McBride stomp out menacing group moves as Ava’s abusers. They attack her, then refuse to leave, haunting the charred house of her self, leering from the corners as she struggles to recover.

‘Made to Dance in Burning Buildings’ is a moving portrait of survival

In which I eat far too much suburban barbecue

You won’t find any old family recipes at Jeka’s. Pitmaster Eugene “Jeka” Storozhuk, who emigrated to Aloha from Ukraine at age 11, grew up grilling with his family. But when it comes to smoking, he’s entirely self-taught. “I watched lots of shows and videos; that’s where I really picked up the tricks and techniques.” For the past three years, Storozhuk has applied those tricks in the parking lot of a Mobil gas station on Pacific Highway, tending an eclectic lineup of meats in a massive black smoker, with a squirt bottle in one hand and tongs in the other. The results are eclectic. “We don’t have a style,” says Kristin Storozhuk, Eugene’s wife, who runs the retail side from a trailer parked alongside the smoker next to an impressive heap of firewood. Style or no, the results are worth a stop, wherever you’re going. Jeka’s intensely smoky chicken, coated in a salt-and-pepper bark and served chopped, is deservedly a top seller. Also excellent are the enormous spare ribs, bright pink from smoke and at once moist and tender, with a terrific balance of sweet and fat.

Southwest smoke: Sampling the barbecue joints, stands and trucks on Portland’s west side

Review: Everybody

In “Everybody,” Jacobs-Jenkins dispenses with the Christian morality of “Everyman” but doesn’t know what to offer in its place. He seems to be at a loss, and this sentiment is echoed by his characters. The third-wall-breaking narrator, Usher (Sarah Lucht), opens the play by saying, “We are dealing with some really ancient material, so let’s trust it to be really wise and meaningful, okay?” and closes it by concluding, “I have no idea what that was, but it’s very old, so please be respectful.”

A medieval morality play gets a contemporary twist in ‘Everybody’

Review: Topdog/Underdog

Sibling rivalry can be brutal, as anyone who has one can attest, but brotherly envy and resentment are rarely so dark as in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, “Topdog/Underdog.” Street Scenes’ production at the Chapel Theatre in Milwaukie is an intimate, upsetting look at injustices of family, poverty and history.

Two abandoned brothers share bad blood in intimate, upsetting ‘Topdog/Underdog’