Quentin Tarantino fans do not fret. The Vortex Theatre’s production of Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs,” which runs through Sept. 9, stays close enough to the original that you won’t feel slighted in any way.
The best thing about director Robert J. Raucci and the stellar cast of players taking on this film-noir classic, is the energy they inject into the production, making it, in a sense, more powerful than the film version.
The audience gets to feel that they are a part of the sometimes-bumbling group of alleged professionals that set up the diamond heist gone wrong. Viewers are also in the warehouse with Mr. White and Mr. Orange as the latter is bleeding to death from a gunshot wound to the stomach. And the audience is merely feet away when Mr. Blonde takes Officer Marvin Nash’s ear for a souvenir after brutally torturing him.
The construct of the Vortex allows for all of these scenes, among others, to be vividly ingrained into one’s being. Since Tarantino relied heavily on dialogue in the film, Raucci and the cast must do the same, but it is the atmosphere and the nearly palpable proximity of the players that allows one to run a gamut of emotions — to ride along with the jewel thieves through happiness and anger, murder and betrayal.
Thane Kenny masterfully takes on the role of Mr. White, the elder statesman of the group. Mr. White is at the center of much of the action and Kenny works the environment with an accomplished air. The strong bond he forms with Mr. Orange is evident, which is needed to guide the performance.
UNM media arts student Malcolm Sharbutt plays the almost-juvenile Mr. Orange with a proficiency that belies his youthful appearance. Though Mr.Orange is the closest thing to a protagonist in this story, it is his role in the downfall of the group that repulses, and Sharbutt plays it to perfection.
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“I’m just dealing with trying to make him a three-dimensional character and portray him how a real human being would handle the situation,” Sharbutt said prior to the production’s opening. “I just tried to make him as human as possible. I feel he’s a likable character but he also has to deal with a lot of messy, messy situations.”
Also excellent is Vic Browder as the sanguinary Mr. Blonde. His performance in the ear-cutting scene and in previous scenes where his dark humor is needed to carry scenes over are definite highlights.
Edward Dean expertly portrays the smarmy Mr. Pink, Miguel Martinez really should have been Joe Cabot in the original — the voice imitation is uncanny — and Mark Van Martin literally redefines Nice Guy Eddie into a handsome and lovable, yet slimy and quick-witted loyalist.
The play is done in two acts, and extremely loud gunshots and strobe effects are used, so viewers are offered ear plugs at the venue.
Vulgarity is used throughout the play, so it is not suitable for younger viewers.
“Reservoir Dogs” runs through Sept. 9, and is showing at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 6 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 dollars for students and seniors, and on Sundays, everyone gets in for $7. The Vortex Theatre is located at 2004-´ Central Ave. SE. For more information, call 247-8600.