Wine in the Valley

Portland playwright Andrea Stolowitz's Successful Strategies opens at OCT

Now receiving its world premiere at Oregon Contemporary Theatre under the direction of Elizabeth Helman, Successful Strategies is a romantic comedy set right in the Willamette Valley and featuring a cast of familiar Oregon types, from the disaffected latter-day hippie to the clueless Silicon Valley carpetbagger.

The play, by Portland writer Andrea Stolowitz, is inspired by a French farce of the same name, but it transplants the standard elements of the genre — romantic confusion, botched communication, mistaken motives and sexed-up slapstick — to a vineyard owned by Hugh and Susan (William Mark Hulings and Storm Kennedy), a couple on the rocks who, by way of some extremely disruptive land development next door, get tangled up with California transplants John and Misty (Shawn Bookey and Erica Towe).

Of course, real or imagined partner swapping occurs, aggravated greatly by the arrival of the vineyard owners’ daughter (Sabrina Gross) and her hilariously love-struck French boyfriend (Joel Ibanez).

The production is a tad uneven — the farcical elements, at times, are forced and mechanical, clashing oddly with the play’s more serious side — but, overall, the work is well-written, and the cast is strong, especially Hulings as a middle-aged free spirit who’s lost his mojo.

Successful Strategies plays through March 11 at Oregon Contemporary Theatre; $20-$39, tickets at 541-465-1506 or