Calling all strong young women! Oregon Children’s Theatre’s WROL (Without Rule of Law) is for you.
It’s hard to be a teen, right? Teens are old enough to form strong opinions about the world, but often considered too young to be taken seriously, and certainly too young to have much control over their lives or environment. Michaela Jeffrey’s clever script brings these frustrations to the forefront, creating a witty, emotional show that will resonate with young adults everywhere.
Get ready to be impressed: this powerhouse cast of young women will dazzle you with their mastery of comedy, drama and even a vocal performance near the end of the show. Executing even one of these elements well would be impressive; seeing them do all three, you’ll forget they are actually teens themselves. If you are fans of OCT’s Impulse improvisational troupe, you’ll recognize actors Lili Ireland and Tam Silverman. They bring their improv experience with them as well, handling falling set pieces like pros, improvising lines and keeping the story flowing. I continue to be impressed by Ireland every time I see her perform. The first thing my family discussed in the car after the performance was the way she created a comedic moment with only an emphatic flip of paper on a clipboard. Later, a “secret handshake” was so well-executed by the actors that the audience actually cheered.
The set design and use of lighting and video were also beautifully done. I loved the use of lanterns and flashlights on stage, and the tarp ceilings. Everything about the production felt timely. Eighth-graders engaging in apocalyptic prepping feels slightly less absurd during a global pandemic. My husband and I agreed that we would pay to see this show ourselves, even without kids.
This performance is recommended for ages 13 and up, but we brought our mature tween. A member of the production team approached us to warn us about language and descriptions of violence. I appreciated the thoughtfulness of that gesture, and I’m still glad I brought my strong daughter. She was completely jazzed after the show, talking nonstop all the way home about unfairness, what she thought happened after the ending, and asking lots of questions about interactions with police. That said, I think the age recommendation is a good one. The plot is complicated, with many events described, rather than performed, so even if you are comfortable with the language and violence, it may be harder for younger patrons to follow.
This performance runs February 19-March 6, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. It takes place in the Multnomah Arts Center Performance Hall, which has a parking lot, but no sloped floors in the audience. If anyone in your family is short, get there early to snag a seat near the front. If you aren’t ready to meet in person, you can buy tickets for the Video On-Demand version. Runtime is 90 minutes.
Take your teen to this show for the belly-laughs, for the drama, and — maybe — to let them know you see them.