Best in Show

Our favorite arty endeavors of 2011

Part of a larger article. Read the whole thing here.

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, December 29, 2011

Cloud Cover, Tricklock Theatre Company

This one-woman performance by Elsa Menéndez can be summed up in a word: joyful. Put on in a small, curtained space with AstroTurf laid on the floor and tacked to the ceiling, with funny hats bearing inspirational sayings, with a red umbrella ready to unfurl a mosaic of tiny gifts, with fresh coffee and peeled tangerines and a beautiful woman standing in the middle of it all and smiling at you, this show felt more like an intimate conversation than a play. As Menéndez told stories from her life, she offered audience members cookies and other confections. Somehow she conveyed her message—one of warmth, optimism and love—without becoming saccharine. It’s a show I hope we get to see again in the coming year. 

Virtual Reality, Mother Road Theatre Company

Really, it’s not surprising. You’ve got Bill Sterchi and Chad Christensen-Brummett, two of the best actors in Albuquerque, duking it out through a play penned by Academy Award-winner Alan Arkin. Add the fact that it was produced by Mother Road Theatre Company, a strong contender for the best company in the city, and of course you’re going to have a great show. On a lonely stage without props, viewers’ imaginations were tickled, teased and stretched as Sterchi and Christensen-Brummett invented their way through this mysterious story, which involved a warehouse, an unknown delivery and a secret mission. 

The Memory of Water, Mother Road Theatre Company

This play broke my heart and then put it back together. Simply staged, it took place entirely in the room of the main characters’ recently deceased mother. Its intricacies came in the relationships between three daughters, who come to mourn and pick up the remnants of a parent’s life. Although the entire cast was sharp, it was Julia Thudium as the middle daughter who made the play poignant, giving the audience a taste of what it feels like to grieve the loss not only of a loved one’s life but possibly also your own. Yet, for all the sadness the show evoked, it was delivered so gracefully that it felt like catharsis. It’s a piece I’ll remember. 

Othello, Aux Dog Theatre

Most audiences are familiar with the story of Shakespeare’s Moor, who falls victim to jealousy and, through that green-eyed lens, destroys what he most loves. It’s a tale that swells with the all-too-familiar rage and desolation that accompanies the sense of betrayal. It’s also a piece that’s hard to pull off without the right set of actors. Darryl DeLoach, Peter Shea Kierst and Arlette Morgan (who played Othello, Iago and Desdemona, respectively) were all outstanding in their roles, carrying off the well-known tragedy with poise and passion. Along with Director Lori Stewart, they easily secured a place in this list. 

Cabaret, Albuquerque Little Theatre

ALT’s version of this classic was well-arranged, from the live orchestra to the multilayered set design. But it was Albuquerque native (and now New York City resident) Jacob Lewis who made this show stand apart. Lewis was dazzling as the Emcee of the Kit Kat Klub, which serves as backdrop to the rise of the Nazi regime in early-’30s Berlin. With a captivating voice and an ability to make you forget all your troubles in one moment and cry your heart out in the next, Lewis used the role to prove his considerable talents.