Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Regional Reviews

One-Acts Simmer with Depth and Humor
Fusion Theatre Company


Jamie H. Jung and Harrison Sim
Here's a production that's a ton of fun. Once again, the Fusion is presenting The Seven, a round-up of one-act contest winners. The 2015 entries are uniformly strong, each offering both impact and surprise.

2015 marks the Fusion's 10th year of the festival of one-acts. The Seven is curated by Jen Grigg and judged by a panel that includes theatre experts Gil Lazier, Paul Kuritz, and Levi Shrader. They combed through 852 submissions from 41 states and nine countries. Each year, the Fusion asks it audience to choose a theme for the contest, and each submission must adhere to the theme in some way. This year's theme was "Unfinished Business."

At the beginning of the program, and between the 10 to 12-minute plays, the audience is treated to a song linked to the "business" of life. Songs included everything from Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business," and Mississippi John Hurt's "Ain't Nobody's Business but My Own" to "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

The 2015 collection includes plenty of comedy. Even in the plays that address serious issues, such as madness due to grief or depression due to hopelessness, there is levity sprinkled throughout. So the whole production—while not actually comedy—is fun, clever, and witty.

The directors are some of Albuquerque's best, including Jacqueline Reid, Laurie Thomas, John Hardman, and festival curator Jen Grigg. The plays come from a talented and very experienced bunch of playwrights, and all the plays are strong—quite a feat given that directors were given only one week of rehearsal, and they had to present on a stripped-down set.

The quality is high throughout, making it impossible to discuss which plays were stronger than others. So I'll just name some personal favorites. Final Words, with book, music, and lyrics by Drew Lane, and direction by Robb Anthony Sisneros, provides a twist on the one-act—it's a musical. The songs are lovely—as is the short plot about the reading of a will. The performance by Julia Parma as the deceased's trollop Louise is worth the price of the whole show.

Dangling Participles, written by Jeffrey Neuman and directed by Laurie Thomas, is a sweet and clever morning-after mystery. Great comic timing with unexpected depth. Both actors, Caitlin Aase as Elle and Miles Wartes as Max, are wonderful. Where have these two been hiding? It is also good to see Katie Becker Colon pop in from the Duke City Rep for The Refrigerator, written by Wendy Biller and directed by Reid. The play nabbed top honors as the Andaluz Award Jury Prize Winner. A nice mix of dark and funny craziness.

The Harsh, written by Alex Dremann and directed by Paul Ford, demonstrates how much can be told about love and life in a short 10 minutes. We meet Nick (Jamie H. Jung) and Henry (Harrison Sim) at Nick's wedding, and in a quick and heated conversation we find out Nick inadvertently stole the love of Henry's life, leaving behind bitterness, betrayal, and a broken friendship.

An evening of one-acts is often a disjointed ride with roller-coaster turns and sudden drops. Not so with The Seven this year. The plays coalesce with a slow, strong build.

The Seven is produced by the Fusion Theatre Company. The seven plays run at the Cell Theatre, 700 1st. St. NW, Thursdays - Sundays through June 14. Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8:00 pm. There is a Saturday afternoon performance at 2:00 pm, and a Sunday performance at 6:00 pm. Adults are $40, seniors and students $35. For reservations, go to fusionabq.org or call 505-766-9412.


Photo: Richard K. Hogle

--Rob Spiegel


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