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Monday, December 22, 2014

Look back at ABQ theater highlights

culture@dailylobo.com

Albuquerque theatre and the Daily Lobo have taken another turn around the globe. There has been a lot of senseless tripe, such as the tasteless gall of producing “Cats” of all things, but also some wonderful and amazing productions that I feel utterly blessed to have been able to see and write about.

The Vortex’s productions are a confusing crapshoot, seemingly waiting for the occasional perfect storms of assembled talent. “Good People” is easily their best production of the year, doing so many things right with a stellar cast and weird improv comedy, while “Fat Pig” just finished its run and remains fresh in my mind.

The quality of the productions at UNM are as erratic as a hereon addict. The vast array of acting abilities from the student actors is often too harshly contrasted with the insane production budgets of the facility-directed shows.

The student-directed shows lack the vision or budgets to make much of a finished product to speak of at all. Plus, the odd internal politics of the trading and hoarding of acting talent really makes every production suffer. The great shining example of UNM’s efforts this year, however, came in the form of “Spring Awakening.” Weak male leads didn’t ruin the enjoyable performances of the various minor characters or the stunning power of Alexandra Uranga and Andee Schray.

Blackout Theatre is a knock-out yet again, making it look easy for everyone else. October saw them create “Quarantine,” a haunted house with an interactive narrative, and allowed me the opportunity to write about it “in character.” This was some of the most fun I’ve had all year.

Blackout’s play “Carson Lake” was a risky bit of brutal poetry, both ancient and new. Adapted loosely from the Greek tragedy “Hippolytus,” local playwright Barry Lopez made his own rules for the rhythm and structure: flowery dashed with comic profanity. It strode at its own pace and stepped with confidence the whole way. Plus, Shannon Flynn and Heather Yeocero were unbearably good.

The best show of the entire year was probably “The Illusion” by Tony Kushner. This play was freely adapted from Pierre Coneille’s “‘L’illusion Comique’” as an ode to theatre, fantasy and stories. There was not a single part of the Mother Road Theatre Company production that was not creative, engrossing and dazzling.

All in all, though, the Shakespeare productions of the past 12 months have been pretty abysmal. Here’s to the future, hoping something new and interesting will be done at last.