at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
After trying for a month to moderate my initial reaction to the show, I admit failure. So, I reluctantly tell you, “Run! Turn your tickets back!! Seeing Between Two Knees is a waste.”
The “play” is a two-act, juvenile, mental-masturbation orgy of insult humor written without wit and performed without inspiration. It feels unedited, unworkshopped, and unrehearsed, OSF protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.
About the cleverest thing about Knees is how it inoculated itself against criticism by suggesting that any complaints directed toward it are based on white fragility, insensitivity, or worse. Aside from this self-vaccination against disapproval, there is nothing else ingenious, thought-provoking, entertaining, or otherwise worthwhile about the show.
The comedy and underlying serious topics are presented with slapstick, 7th grade obviousness.
This is typical:
Yuk, yuk…. yuk.
More than anything else, Knees feels like a series of amateur vignettes presented together with a flimsy, white-people-cause-problems theme. There’s a not-so-subtle implication that if you don’t laugh and applaud at the stupidity on stage, then it’s because you’re white and insulted. It’s not because you didn’t like 7th grade humor when you were 12 years old, and it hasn’t grown on you since.
This was workshopped, revised, and refined? With actors? With writers? With anyone connected with a theater? Really? I want to see the workshop’s attendance sheet.
The 1491’s, an “intertribal Indigenous sketch comedy troupe”, is credited as the playwrights of the show. But, the performance feels like an improv show (a low-brow, dumb improv show) more than a play. That impression is strengthened by the flubbed lines, hesitant delivery, and breaking out of character that are the artistic hallmarks of this OSF American Revolutions co-commission.
But, I really don’t want to spend too much effort talking about the performance. After all, comments on a show should not take more effort than the creation of the dismal work that’s being commented on, right?
Between Two Knees is in the bottom 2 or 3 shows we’ve ever seen at OSF. If it were the worst (still Family Album) at least it could be proud of something. As it is, it is merely avoidable dreck.