Tuesday, April 2, 2019 Filed in: The Arts
I just saw two of the four Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays that have recently opened: Cambodian Rock Band and Mother Road. Unlike previous years, all four opening plays will continue until the 2019 season closes.
Everyone in town is raving about “Cambodian" and "Mother" and it’s easy to see why! I too really enjoyed these plays. They are set in different cultures and on two different continents — Cambodia and Southwest US — each tells a powerful, compelling, multi-generational story.
Cambodian Rock Band
The talent of the cast is amazing: seamlessly, each cast member plays in the band and acts in the story. The story switches from 2008 to 1979: it flips from comedy, mystery, rock concert, and gut gripping drama.
Central to this play is uplifting Cambodian style 1970s pop music that was played by the youth just before the Khmer Rouge took power and brutally muted all music. The music is not hip-hop, and thankfully not too loud — though I always use ear plugs! For a sneak look (and hear) check out this YouTube video
On Mother Road (as Steinbeck called Rte 66), playwright Solis’ present day story picks up the threads from “Grapes of Wrath” and weaves a tale starting in California going back to Oklahoma. It’s powerful, gritty, and reaffirms hope, belonging, and family (chosen and blood) in the face of fear, death, bigotry, and poverty.
Those who follow the notable Oregon Shakespeare Festival actors are thrilled to see Mark Murphy back on stage! He plays the lead William Joad — as always, he’s marvelous!
Come! See these plays! Enjoy the hospitality of the Chanticleer Inn!