Teens will love this provocative dark comedy performed by teens in Oregon Children’s Theatre’s Young Professionals Company.

Courtesy Oregon Children’s Theatre Youth Professionals Company

You’re probably familiar with Oregon Children’s Theatre’s popular family-friendly performances. They also train a talented youth company, which performs three productions this season; Pestilence: Wow is the first. These performances are not intended for young children, and this particular show includes very mature language and gestures, and historically relevant but shocking antisemitic lines. It is recommended for ages 14+.

The show itself has the feel of sketch comedy, reminiscent of Saturday Night Live. I brought my tween to see the show, even though she is younger than the recommended age range. She erupted into giggles many times throughout the performance; in fact, the whole audience (many of them teenagers) did. Actors Ryder Thompson and Aiden Shafiuzzaman were both especially skilled in comedic timing, and both garnered laughs just with their expressions. Thompson is also an elegant and skillful dancer. My favorite moment in the show is the interpretive dance that answers the question, “What is the plague?” The performance takes the form of a reality television competition, and the set design and costumes are an absolute delight. The host wears roller skates, the stage lights up like a game show, and there’s even a clever surprise woven into the monk’s robes.

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Was my child too young to be there? Probably. But she laughed constantly, and deemed the show, “silly but hilarious.” The actors employ profanity the way teens often do — randomly and with delight. If your teen likes a bit of silliness, you might consider dropping them off to enjoy this performance by their peers.

Masks are strongly encouraged, and I was glad to be wearing one because the coughing in this show (and there’s a lot) is so realistic I found myself flinching. (We were also on the front row.) There’s not a bad seat in the house, but arrive early to get a seat in the center section, as tickets are general admission. This performance takes place in Cerimon House in northeast Portland. There’s only street parking, but you can also take public transit. My spouse is a saint, so he dropped us off and picked us up, but there seemed to be plenty of street parking available.

Train your teens early to spend their entertainment dollars on live theater. Pestilence: Wow is a great way to introduce an appreciation of the arts to teens.

Pestilence: Wow!
October 28-November 13, 2022
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 2 pm.
Runtime: 80 minutes, no intermission.
Find tickets here.

Courtesy Oregon Children’s Theatre Youth Company
Meg Asby
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