It is appropriate that a piece of incredible magical realism can simply be referred to as magical.
Literally everything is in place for this piece. The writing? Stellar. The acting? Captivating. The direction? Deft and watchful. The technical designs? Creative and mesmerizing.
Taking a healthy amount of influence and inspiration from “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Georgina H. Escobar’s “The Ruin” tells a dazzling tale of Latin American witchcraft, fantastical love and personal insanities. It’s dark and wickedly funny, absurd and balefully soothing.
“The Ruin” gets everything right, beginning from its opening with the appearance of our stalwart straight man Leonardo, the young archeologist (Alex Knight).
Knight is our mortal foothold for the first half of the play as the audience accompanies him into the play’s mystic, ancient — and often terrifying — jungle universe.
Knight additionally carries the huge portion of the comedy, which the piece is gleefully swimming in.
There are only four cast members, and everyone gets ample opportunity to add their own two cents of humor. All of them hit it monstrously out of the park.
Knight’s boon is the reactionary humor to Leo’s alarming new environment.
His fear and courage is hilarious. His physical comedy is masterful, and his timing couldn’t be better. He is not an actor playing a part. He is transformed into a joyful, endangered adventurer.
This goes for all the characters as well.
“Natural” doesn’t quite cut it to describe the expert command of craft possessed by the performers onstage. You are entertained as effectively as you are absorbed into the play’s every detail.
Rachel Shapiro possesses a ridiculous level of stage presence.
It’s hard to take your eyes off her when she’s onstage no matter what she’s doing. She’s damn funny, too, dueling physically and verbally with Knight in many enjoyable scenes.
Barbara Geary is indubitably the best part of the show as Sophia, the Witch of Cantemploya. Her range, subtlety and evolution of character are breathtaking to behold.
Along we follow and identify with the young, comedic archeologist. “The Ruin” is truly Sophia’s story. One can only hope Geary continues to get such incredible parts to truly showcase her abilities as a performer.
Bill Lang is a marvelous actor and a class act, to boot. He gets two parts to play, and his first, as a living portrait of Don Quixote, is certainly the most memorable part of the show.
Bill-Lang-in-a-box will make your day.
The set is beautifully detailed. Requiring a grand budget and incredible man hours, it outclasses the majority of Albuquerque theater.
Warm light pours from the pack-ratted cave and distant, eerie sounds of unknown origin creep from every side.
The sound design is sublime because it works perfectly with the way in which the story is told. Often it is so subtle or blends so well you question whether some of the sounds are supposed to be there at all.
It’s really up to you to decide and sort through it for yourself.
Escobar has also written original music that is performed live by musicians perched in view above the proceedings. Clever percussion and ardent guitars dot the piece and keep the mood gracefully controlled at every individual moment.
It is a cruel joke that each “Words of Fire” show gets only three performances. Essentially that just means it’s a massive priority for you to see every show.
If every play in Albuquerque was this well-designed, funded and acted, theater would not be in the struggling state it finds itself in.