Can You F***ing Not?
The Millennial experience gets an opera treatment in #adulting, from the classically trained singers of the Lowbrow Opera Collective. It runs through February 9 at 18th & Union.
Speak to me, oh Apple product of my eye.
It’s hard to pick just one star out of the six-actor, weird little opera on now at 18th & Union. And perhaps that’s the point in #adulting, where new roommates, brought together by Craigslist, haul out a box of participation trophies amidst their unpacking, along with their crystals and weed and other life essentials. Everyone is banded together, as no one’s clear on where they are (the gentrifying Central District, of course), where they’re going, or what they’re supposed to be doing. They’ll work that out later.
But first — Does anyone know how to write a rent check?
#adulting is a clever mix. It’s loaded with laugh lines and goofiness. One singer (Nic Varela), outfitted like a cheap costume party leather daddy, tackles the challenge of embodying a couch dumped on the side of the road, his song exuberant (when headed home with the roommates), despondent (when turned loose again), and mournful (a dirge, growing more and more desperate on the street corner). Later, Varela, who plays a great many roles throughout, hocks soy-based fake avocado (avo-CAN-do!), green gunk served by the Easy Cheese can and plucked from an OxyClean box. But the show tosses in enough meat — one character confides she’s $160,000 in debt, while another flaunts his trust-fund family, and another is met with roars of laughter from an interviewer when she expects to be paid at a job — to keep things sharp and relevant.
And for all it’s a farce (sort of), a lot of it’s all-too-recognizable. Can’t get furniture home? Pop it on the light rail! (True story: the very first time I took the light rail, someone hopped on hauling a giant armoire, on a cart — very efficiently.) Have groceries in the fridge? Meh, order delivery anyway, as those vegetables mold over.
The beauty is in the clever delivery. First, there’s the obvious: it’s an opera. They’re all strong singers; and Ava Linvog, the accompanist, plays the hell out of those keys.
But it’s paired with a freshness that’s not captured strictly in the genre or the storyline. It’s the foresight to have a human personifying student loan debt, or a mysterious stain, or a forlorn couch. It’s unexpected. And it’s fucking hilarious.
The Lowbrow Opera Collective says they want to “revive the genre of opera by making it more fun, more queer, and more relatable.” With talent like this and material this rich, I think they’re on to something.
And while the intimate 18th & Union venue works well, I’d also like to see these shows in cabaret form — over brunch, or with an artisan cheese plate and a gallon of rosé.
There better be avocado toast.
Lowbrow Opera Collective: #adulting
Performers: Eric Angus Jeffords, Katie Kelley, Christine Oshiki, Krissy Terwilliger, Nic Varela, Jared White; Ava Linvog (accompanist)
Writers: John Ervin Brooks (music), Natalie Stewart Elder (libretto), Stefan Melnyk & Austin Nucklos (additional music & libretto)
Director: Katie Kelley, Christine Oshiki (assistant director)
#adulting runs through 2/9 at 18th & Union in the Central District. Tickets are $15-28 (sliding scale for all), available here. Accessibility notes: restroom is gender-neutral, single-stall; theatre can be made wheelchair accessible with a ramp, but the restroom is not — please contact venue ahead of time to ensure smooth access.
Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.