‘Green Porno Live on Stage’ With Isabella Rossellini at Lisner Auditorium

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Green Porno. Now that’s a show title to bring interest. Add that it was adapted from a well-viewed Web series aired on the Sundance Channel and your reviewer wondered how it would be accomplished live on stage. And the one-woman in-charge was Isabella Rossellini; just as she was in the web series.

Isabella Rossellini as a snail. Photo courtesy of  Sundance Channel.
Isabella Rossellini as a snail. Photo courtesy of Sundance Channel.

But, going from short bursts of digital pixels on a screen that reached millions to a live in-person event of a bit more than one hour that would reach far fewer; would anything be lost?

Well let’s put that question to rest. Isabella Rossellini’s Green Porno was an engaging, charming, and quite colorful evening of “lecturing” by what your reviewer  would describe as a favorite eccentric Aunt ala Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame.  Oh, and the subject matter was all about animal behavior including their mating rituals and reproductive behavior. Or as Rossellini made clear, sex. And of course, human beings were in the mix too.

The evening was like a Sesame Street live production for grown-ups who are Green at heart with a willingness to put aside overly scientific chatter and be amused. Those there were gleeful during the performance. As the audience left Lisner,  your reviewer heard many a conversation of almost wide-eyed adoration.

Full of fun animation, adorable furry costumes, cute paper animals moving about on sticks, a bit of cross-dressing and plenty of projected image silliness, Rossellini acted out how some animals maneuver themselves during courting and mating. There were birds and bees, of course, but there were also dolphins, spiders, sea horses, monkeys, fish and even snails and more.

Who knew so many species find so many different ways to accomplish their survival. And she does it with an almost hypnotic presentation manner. An example, how she described and made visual Noah’s predicament in ways your reviewer had never considered. Hmm, lifting tails to make sure there was a male and a female of each on the Ark.

All of the performance was done behind and in front of a lectern out of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

However she did it, or if there was a trap door somewhere, Rossellini was able to pull out a multitude of items for costumes or props that were almost magical. And then when done, she would cast them aside onto the floor. She made an amusing, vibrant mess on the stage floor.

Green Porno  as a Web series began a few years ago and garnered millions of views. Rossellini was the featured actor in the series and now is taking it on the road. The live version of Green Porno was first seen in early Spring 2014. It is now touring cities in the United States.  The show was created by Rossellini and French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere.

Overall the evening with Green Porno was an imaginative, humorous look at biodiversity. Rossellini concluded the evening with these words, if your reviewer was good at writing in the dark: If you look at nature, there is no perfection. Everything is always evolving and adapting according to whatever the environmental pressure. The more diversity there is, the more things are going to survive.”

Would there be as much interest in the performance without the headliner?  A reasonable question to pose. So you might be asking, “why Rossellini?”  Well, she has been involved with conservation issues for quite a while including work with the Wildlife Conservation Network and the Howard Gilman Foundation, which is concerned with animal conservation. She is also a National Ambassador for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Yes, she is the daughter of actress Ingrid Bergman and director Robert Rossellini.

A final fascinating item. According to the Fall 2014 edition of GW magazine, Rossellini presented Green Porno on “the same stage that her mother, Ingrid Bergman, did 68 years earlier in the theater’s first-ever commercial production.” Back then Lisner was one of the largest stage south of New York City. Back then it was also a segregated stage. Bergman’s efforts would help change that segregated seat policy as changes were also being made to DC’s National Theater seating policy. Right outside of GW Lisner is an old, no longer in use, fire call box. In honor of Bergman’s stance about segregation, the old mechanism has a special small sculpture of Ingrid Berman where the call mechanism once was.

Running Time: One hour and 15 minutes, with no intermission.

Green Porno, Live on Stage appeared for one night only, November 8, 2014 at 8 p.m., at GW Lisner Auditorium -730 21st Street NW, in Washington, DC. For more information, visit here.

LINK:
The Sundance Chanel Green Porno Series.




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David Siegel
David Siegel is a freelance theater reviewer and features writer whose work appears on DC Metro Theater Arts, ShowBiz Radio, in the Connection Newspapers and the Fairfax Times. He is a judge in the Helen Hayes Awards program. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and volunteers with the Arts Council of Fairfax County. David has been associated with theater in the Washington, DC area for nearly 30 years. He served as Board President, American Showcase Theater Company (now Metro Stage) and later with the American Century Theater as both a member of the Executive Board and as Marketing Director. You can follow David's musings on Twitter @pettynibbler.