Coming of Age:
A man and his friends.
Lip-smacking ice cream draws neighborhood crowd.
Coming of Age
A man and his friends.
Nice to see so many new faces decorating an opening night audience.
It'd be great if the world premiere of Judge Gregory Foote's play, SWM, which
brought his legal colleagues into the ACE Annex Friday night, would spur this usually
undramatic crowd to attend more local theater. The infusion of funds collected from
suit and settlement fees (great intermission conversation, by the way) would be a
huge shot in the arm to our local theater scene.
Massott) listens to Caroline (Valerie McMahon) in SWM.
It's important to give Actor's Cabaret credit for showcasing new
works by local playwrights. That's community building at its finest, and any venue
willing to offer local artists a chance to share their creative projects is to be
And if you're Greg Foote, you're luckily in good company. Foote,
the board president of Willamette Rep, went to none other than Kirk Boyd to direct
his play, which explores the sexed out psyche and potential maturation of Danny Travis,
a chronic bachelor.
This well-cast, well-acted, well-directed play is chock-full of
ticklish one-liners and witty references to Eugene and Seattle that strike chords
with the audience. Obviously based on Foote's own life -- with only gentle brushstrokes
altering the landscape enough to establish the "I" personae -- the script
revolves around Danny (Stephen Massott), a divorce lawyer whose job hazard is to
become romantically jaded, and his relationships with his best-friend-who's-also-gay,
Barry (Ryan Manderfeld); his other best friend, Sally (Elise Bales); Sally's son
Josh (Ezra Lebank); and the latest-woman-he's-dating, Caroline (Valerie McMahon).
The play comments not only on relationships but on types of people.
Danny is a bachelor who doesn't cook, only "heats." He's a great friend
to those he lets in. Danny's ideal woman is a "tall blonde with no morals"
and he's intimidated by chicks he can't seduce. He dates a lot of women and ends
any relationship as soon as it begins to show signs of intimacy. But he works it
out that it's the lady who leaves first. "Always be the dumpee, never the dumper,"
he advises. Got that guys?
Sally is a new-age type to be made fun of, but loved because she's
good-hearted, after all. Sally flips through the personal ads in the paper looking
for a date for Danny and comments that there are enough radical feminists around,
wouldn't want to create another one. Barry says (in a line that drew huge guffaws)
that his dad believes he wouldn't be gay if he'd gone to Oregon State, and Foote
also has Barry say that "commitment is as rare as a laughing lesbian."
You get the picture.
The script also editorializes on the effect of divorce on kids.
Josh's dad is a loser, who promises him big things then bales. His mom is afraid
his father will disappoint him and then he does. Josh reacts in an equally big way.
Barry suffers a really big blow and it's all this bigness that finally convinces
Danny to maybe change his hedonistic ways. And it's an equally big reason that in
turn affects that decision.
It's a first play, after all.
The talented cast makes for a powerful ensemble, led by Massott
who is in nearly every scene. The play is about relationships and the necessity of
friendship, and Boyd does a fine job drawing out what layers exist between each combination
of characters. Likewise, the actors fill out their roles with talent and experience.
All of the actors excel in this production, with Massott leading the way from beginning
to end. Ezra Lebank is a powerhouse as Josh. He's a teenager playing a troubled teenager
and he reveals depths of emotion that are way beyond his years.
The staging is minimalist, with a sparse set that keeps the focus
on the characters' relationships. The cast doubles as crew moving props on and off
the stage and this generally works save for a few awkward moments. But attention
must be paid to the details to make this type of set work. Chairs aligned just so,
tablecloths even on tables -- these details are absolutely crucial. What's nicely
done are Danny's onstage costume changes, from legal to athletic to casual -- very
smooth and sleek.
SWM continues at ACE Annex through June 30.
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ice cream draws neighborhood crowd.
The common watering hole in my neighborhood
is Prince Pückler's, Eugene's own gourmet ice cream store. Jim
and Lolly Robertson reopened the 19th and Agate store in March, buying
it back from the owners of Sweet Treats, who had it since 1996.
Grab a single cone, with ice cream heaped much wider
and almost higher than the cone itself, and take a chair outside to
chat and observe the locals at play, to see and be seen, or just to
scarf down lip-smacking good ice cream.
Jessica Williams shimmies up the red and green pole
like a monkey. Gaggles of pre-teen girls alight with giggles, pointedly
ignoring everyone else. Couples engage in pre-mating behavior, pulling
their chairs out of the light for an illusion of privacy. A few stout
soles come in for their daily fix. Neighbors walk down for dessert.
Parents or scout leaders march in with purpose, herding numerous small
children to the counter and beseeching them to "make a choice now"
from the 34 flavors.
Masses of UO students show up around 9 pm, joking
and jostling for positions in long lines that snake around the small
interior space and out the door. Stories are told, songs are sung,
joys and sorrows are shared. One night we were treated to an entire
performance of the musical The Lorax by a doctor and her husband.
Few may know that there was a real Prince Pückler
(pronounced "Pook-ler"), a Prussian who invented a dessert in the
late 1800s. He called it Prince Pückler's Bombay, a sort of Neapolitan
baked dish that still can be found in some restaurants in Germany.
The Robertsons began making and selling their ice
cream in 1975, in the downtown Atrium Building. The business grew,
with wholesale contracts all over the Portland area and as far east
as Hood River. Until 1996, they also owned retail stores all over
Eugene. With young children to raise, they decided it was time to
shrink, so sold all the retail operations. Lolly became involved with
Twin Oaks Elementary School and Jim concentrated on their wholesale
"We realized that we missed having a restaurant in
our own town, so when the previous owners wanted out, we bought it
back," Jim Robertson said.
"It's been very uplifting -- people came back
just to welcome us back into the neighborhood. This is a great neighborhood,
and being so close to UO is an added bonus."
Certainly the cluster of shops at the intersection
of 19th and Agate provide almost all any local could want. Within
a block you can buy bread, get your car serviced, eat lunch or dinner
at one of four restaurants, sip coffee at two coffee shops, one which
is a cyber café, rent videos, pick up groceries, or even see
a doctor. The Agate Playground is behind the store, with evening views
of the vaux swifts that live in the chimney of Agate Hall.
The hub of all this traffic is the ice cream store.
With new linoleum, counters and fresh paint and plaster, Prince Pückler's
reopened during spring break. Again the store is a beacon for neighbors
and community, as many are willing to drive to get this most delicious
of ice creams.
What makes it so yummy?
As might be suspected, it's the fat. Robertson says
they use 16 percent butterfat, high-quality flavorings, fruits and
cane sugar. Many ice creams use corn syrup and alternatives to costly
"We never changed anything to make it less expensive,"
Robertson says. "We're a local business and we buy our buttermilk
locally. You can see our cows out in the fields near Junction City.
It costs a lot more but the taste is right."
Prince Pückler's does make non-fat yogurts and
sorbets, but experiments with anything sugar-free have failed. Green
tea, chai and adsuki bean ice creams are big sellers, however, both
in retail and wholesale.
In addition to ice cream, Pückler's also serves
Bon-Bons, frozen bananas, ice cream pies, chocolate from Euphoria
and coffee drinks from Equator Coffee Company. This is the beginning
of the fresh-fruit ice cream season, so soon the long-awaited fresh
marionberry ice cream will be out.
The shop is open every day from noon to 11 pm, except
on holidays. Tuesdays the special is a hot fudge sundae for $2.25,
and Sundays the special is a Euphoria Ultra Chocolate Sundae for $2.50.
Pückler's ice cream can also be purchased at the Oregon Country
Fair and at Eugene Ems games.
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