Full disclosure: I know Dana Marks, the Durham-based, multi-faceted performer. She directed me in Mortall Coile Theatre Company’s inaugural production of Adam Rapp’s Nocturne; and later, I directed her in Theatre Raleigh’s staging of Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz. We share a mutual respect for each other as artists and as human beings.
Or, at least … I thought I knew Dana Marks. Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern’s current staging of her penned “solo perpetration,” Ethelred the Unready, directed by her husband and frequent collaborator, Jaybird O’Berski, opened new doors and shed new light on her. Woven through the dramatic telling of the story of Ethelred the Unready (or, ill-advised), Marks plays out memories, events from her own life; not necessarily in a way that attempts to connect herself to the too-soon king of lore, but more to pose and attempt to understand the concepts of growing up and grasping hold of your relationship to those around you. How do you fit in the world? How does the world fit in you? Are we ingrained or are we impressed upon? Does it have to be one or the other?
Anyway, the list of questions could go on. And by the time, around half-way through, Marks strides downstage with her wired microphone, dragging the cord along with her, and assertively asks, “Does anyone have any questions?” we laugh out loud as a collective group because … well, yeah. We do. But we don’t know how to phrase them.
Marks starts off in piecemeal armor, her face filthy, every inch covered. She carries an electric guitar, plugs it into an amp, and sings while crudely accompanying herself. The sound was muddy and I couldn’t really make out what she was singing … but then again, it didn’t really matter. The evening is billed as a “perpetration” which means the show is already telling us it doesn’t have to be a smooth or polished journey. Hell, it doesn’t even have to make any sense; and at times, you do find yourself asking, “What’s going on here exactly?” Marks transitions between Ethelred to a form of “third-party” objective commentator, and also herself, shedding pieces of armor over the course of the evening. She sings; she moves; she lyrically speaks in spoken-word.
Ethelred the unready was much more poignant than I expected it to be; I connected to the piece on a different level than if it had just been the story of Ethelred. Marks’ human connection, her ability to capture the gaze of a room and hold it, is a wonderful thing to watch. The show plays in several different cities and venues throughout the Triangle and outlying areas. The Dec. 1st performance that I saw was its only stop in Raleigh, but check their schedule; and if you can make the trip, I’d recommend you go. The experience is worth the travel. Oh, and there’s cake.
SECOND OPINION: Nov. 30th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by : http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/ethelred-the-unready/Event?oid=5091996.
Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern presents ETHELRED THE UNREADY at 8 p.m. Dec. 8 in the Cup 22 Coffee Shopat the Haw River Ballroom, 1711 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd., Saxapahaw, NC 27340; 8 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Mystery Brewing Company, 437 Dimmocks Mill Rd., Suite 41, Hillsborough, NC 27278; and 8 p.m. Dec. 10 in the West End Wine Bar, 450 W Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 27516.
TICKETS: $10 ($8 students).
BOX OFFICE: https://dime.io/events/ethelred-the-unready.
SHOW: http://littlegreenpig.com/index.html and https://www.facebook.com/events/567380156802628/.
PRESENTER: http://littlegreenpig.com/, https://www.facebook.com/LittleGreenPigTheatricalConcern, and https://twitter.com/OLittleGreenPig.
Cup 22 Coffee Shop: http://www.hawriverballroom.com/cup-22/ (directions: http://www.hawriverballroom.com/directions/).
Mystery Brewing Company: http://www.mysterybrewing.com/ (directions: http://www.mysterybrewing.com/pub-location.html).
West End Wine Bar: http://westendwinebar.com/ (directions: https://www.google.com/maps).
Dana Marks (Durham, NC playwright/performer): http://littlegreenpig.com/dana-marks.html (Little Green Pig bio) and https://www.facebook.com/dana.marks.5 (Facebook page).
Jaybird O’Berski (Durham, NC director): http://www.littlegreenpig.com/jaybird-o-berski.html (Little Green Pig bio), https://theaterstudies.duke.edu/people/jaybird-oberski (Duke Theater Studies bio), and https://twitter.com/jaybirdoberski (Twitter page).
Jesse R. Gephart is a Raleigh, NC-based actor, director, and reviewer. A Gainesville, FL native, he earned a degree in Theatre Performance in 2005 from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. On Dec. 9-11 and 16-18, he will reprise his critically acclaimed performance as David/Crumpet in Theatre in the Park’s presentation of The SantaLand Diaries in TIP’s Ira David Wood III Pullen Park Theatre in Raleigh. To read more of Jesse Gephart’s reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/jesse-r-gephart/.)