THREESOME by Yussef El Guindi at Portland Center Stage
“If we are shown a penis in the first act, it must go off in the third.”
Alert: There will be spoilers.
Children and others of a sensitive or bashful inclination, take note: If you sit anywhere near the front row in Portland Center Stage’s studio for the world premiere production of THREESOME, you are likely to get rather up close and personal with a certain male actor’s junk.
That’s because Doug (Quinn Franzen), a somewhat insecure American photographer who has been invited over to native Egyptian Leila’s (Alia Attallah) apartment somewhere in the US to join her and Egyptian-American boyfriend Rashid (Dominic Rains) in the unlikely group rendezvous that gives this disjointed and ultimately unworkable new play its name, pops out of the bathroom stark naked several minutes after the curtain goes up and remains so for most of the first act. Meanwhile the instigating couple mostly keep their clothes on, all the while threatening at any moment to strip down and get the real action started.
But alas, the action – sexual or dramatic – never really happens here. We start off with the appearance of a bang but wait in vain for a real one. And like the feeble attempt at an orgy that is clearly not going to materialize on stage in front of us, Yussef El Guindi’s play brandishes all sorts of guns, ideas and plot points without delivering a satisfying story. What we get instead are some interesting moments and bits and pieces of 2-3 different, somewhat related plays. El Guindi may think he is somehow dramatizing cliches and misunderstandings about women in the Middle East and the west, but the play is a painful evening of bad writing and juvenile innuendo. No doubt there are big important plays to write about the main subjects alluded to here – but THREESOME doesn’t manage to do any of them justice.