Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Fusion Theatre Company
Review by Carole C. Sullivan

Also see Carole's review of Hillary and Clinton

Josh Heard, Paul Ford, Christine Grenier,
and Ryan Jason Cook

Photo by John Christian Ryan
Playwright Jen Silverman states that, "A lot of my plays are about people seeking or finding transformation–people who are either succeeding or failing at pursuing a different vision of themselves or their lives." Well yes, but aren't all plays, all literature?

Where Witch is an inventive retelling of a Jacobean drama that debates how much our souls are worth when hope is hard to come by, it is not quite the sharp, subversive fable it purports to be. The play explores themes about want, is full of interesting characters, deals with the devil, and comments on gender roles and sexuality, but doesn't fully develop into its potential and ends rather abruptly. The script questions the class system, the relationships between men and women and fathers and sons as well as the whole notion of masculinity and the roles of women. It is a lot to pack into a play that was originally a one act, now here performed in two acts.

Witch features two side-by-side stories presented in two side-by-side sets in Fusion's original, intimate Cell Theatre. The devil arrives in the village to tempt Sir Arthur and his household and the outcast witch. This production, starring Jacqueline Reid, John San Nicolas, Ryan Jason Cook, Paul Ford, Christine Grenier, and Josh Heard, is directed by Robb Sisneros and is generally a well-mounted and well-acted production.

The stong cast is representative of some of the best actors on the Albuquerque scene. Paul Ford is a venerable treasure and brings warmth and humor to the role of Sir Arthur. Josh Heard as Cuddy and Ryan Jason Cook as Frank are equally matched as they duel for Sir Arthur's favor. Their fight scene is very believable in the intimate space and quite exciting. Christine Grenier brings a strong stoicism to the somewhat thankless role of Winnifred. John San Nicholas as Scratch, alias the devil, is clever and funny but lacks some sexual danger when dialoguing with Jacqueline Reid as Elizabeth, the witch. Miss Reid always brings a spark of sexual energy to her portrayals, but here she seems to be downplaying the connection with the devil. I expected more sparks to fly.

Director Robb Sisneros handles the sharp mood shifts from scene to scene and set to set as well as possible, given some of the abrupt endings in the script. He has led his designers and crew to a unified vision of the play. The pace is well modulated for the tone of each scene.

Witch at Fusion is a strong production of a flawed play. Although Jen Silverman has been named one of the twenty most produced playwrights by American Theatre, her appeal escapes me. These characters are cliched, and the thematic exploration and development is diffused into obvious and heavy-handed societal commentary. Is this about transformation, revolution and agency? Or is this a play that is not sure what it really wants to say? There are some brilliant scenes to be sure, but the center does not hold.

Witch runs through April 21,2024 at Fusion, 700-708 1st Street NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are Thursday April 18 at 7:00 pm, Friday April 19 at 7:00 pm, Saturdays April 13 and 20 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm, Sundays April 14 and 21 at 3:00 pm. General Admission $40, Seniors $35, Students $20. For tickets and information, please visit or call 505-766-9412.

Directed by Robb Sisneros. Produced by Dennis Gromelski. Cast: Jacqueline Reid, John San Nicolas, Ryan Jason Cook, Paul Ford, Christine Grenier, and Josh Heard.