The cast of Snowlion Rep’s “Omniphobia,” opening Friday at Portland Ballet Studio Theater. Courtesy of Snowlion Repertory Company

Chicken Little, the Boy Who Cried Wolf and the allegorical characters Fear and Dread all make appearance in Snowlion Repertory Company’s latest original play, “Omniphobia.” It opens Friday in the Portland Ballet Studio Theater and runs for two weekends.

It tells the story of one day in the life of Emily, a college professor beset by fear in a society that is becoming more chaotic and unpredictable. Written and directed by Snowlion co-founder and artistic director Al D’Andrea, the play explores the theme of fear and the ways that people deal with those fears in the face of a society that is resistant to change and fearful of the unknown.

D’Andrea has written what he calls “an episodic” piece of vignettes that all lead into Emily confronting her fears and deciding what to do about them. It’s a one-act play, running 80 to 90 minutes and told in a series of quick scenes. It’s a multi-media piece, with video and audio components and title cards to introduce each scene, some of which last as little as 30 seconds.

In addition to Chicken Little and the Boy Who Cried Wolf, the play includes ultra-competitive students, helicopter parents, mistrustful churchgoers, unstable politicians and merchants who peddle fear-based wares. The play is set in contemporary times in the Washington, D.C., area, where Emily teaches environmental science. It’s an ensemble piece, with eight actors. Gusta Johnson plays Professor Emily Robertson, and the ensemble plays a variety of characters. The ensemble includes Elizabeth Chasse-King, Emily Grotz, Tom Handel, Bob Pettee, Linda Shary, Ashanti Williams and Collin Young. They play characters like Congressman Backwater, the Grammy from hell, a “fear conditioning specialist” and an overzealous ROTC student.

While presenting societal aspects of fear, “Omniphobia” tells Emily’s personal journey as she confronts tangible fears and fears of the unknown, including her mother’s illness. “The end of the play is like the beginning for her,” D’Andrea said.

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