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Friday, May 08, 2009


Crazy Enough at Portland Center Stage

"While all the other girls were putting Ken dolls on top of their Barbies I was having fantasies about bestiality and cannibalism."

"After being awake for four days straight and once the shadow demons started showing up I decided it was time to go."

Storm Large's one woman show Crazy Enough is filled with dark bon mots like these and they all sound like they were drilled out of the mouth of a Chuck Palahniuk character. Is it a coincidence that the show includes a cover of the Pixies' "Where is My Mind," a song that has become synonymous with the film version of Fight Club?

Probably, but Large's autobiographical hell ride through heroin addiction, mental illness and subsequent redemption sure sounds like the stuff of fiction. Here is a woman who was told at a young age that she was biological predestined to spend her adult life mired in the depths of crippling clinical depression. Her childhood is filled with stories like the time she was served chicken casserole mixed with household cleansers by her schizophrenic mother. Large has been a teenage sex addict, a San Francisco junkie plagued by halluciations, a lead singer, a reality show star and a rock n' roll goddess in a city without one to call its own.

Large's music career is filled with music industry cliches you can find in any biography in the music section of Powell's. Sex, drugs, poverty, gaining fame, losing fame but how many other lead singers, successful and otherwise, can say they once found themselves in an abortion clinic the day after 9/11? Or have a song like "Eight Miles Wide" in their catalog?

Crazy Enough is a show that might make you wonder if it's exploiting the traumas of its star and if Large might be better off telling all of this to a psychiatrist instead of a packed theater in the basement of a renovated armory. As she reveals in the second half of Crazy Enough though, Large once tried going to a therapist. When ghosts started showing up in the corner of the room during sessions she decided to bag it.

For those of us who have never attended a show this frank and confessional, it's fairly intense to watch someone pour their heart out like this. I was sitting a few feet from the stage and had a hard time watching the show at times, especially when Large reenacted the depths of heroin withdrawal while rolling around the stage a few feet from my seat.

From that vantage I could look across the stage at the audience on the other side of the room. One middle-aged couple caught my eye. They looked like they had driven down from Lake Oswego on the recommendation of one of the wife's more cosmopolitan friends. Throughout the performance, she had a hard time fighting back tears and laughter while her husband spent the entire time visibly cringing at every single one of Large's f-bombs.

The band and Large took a short break after a sing-along that sent her into the audience encouraging all the guys in the theater to join in the chorus of "Eight Miles Wide." I didn't think the couple was going to return from the intermission but they did. The theater was filled with husbands that night, some of them rolling with it, others just blushing and rolling their eyes. All the women in the theater though? They enjoyed the hell of everything, possibly even more so than that time they snuck a bottle of merlot into a showing of the Sex and the City movie.

If this sounds like your cup of black tar tea, I can't recommend Crazy Enough, er, enough. From now on I'll think of Storm Large's dark day on a beach near San Fran instead of Fight Club every time I hear "Where is My Mind?" on KNRK. Her cover can be heard here.

Crazy Enough plays in the Ellyn Bye Studio at Portland Center Stage through June 7th. Tickets, info and more can be found here.

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