Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Regional Reviews

Port Twilight
University of New Mexico

Also see Rob's review of Legally Blonde

Standing: Rhiannon Frazier, Gina Ferraro, Van Hollenbeck, William David Johnson; Sitting: Tino Brokaw, Betty Moore
Where can you find aliens, karaoke, song and dance, sequined space suits, comedy, drama, and love all in one place? At this month's production of Port Twilight, the unpublished play by Len Jenkin presented by the University of New Mexico's Department of Theatre and Dance. The play is full of overlapping plots, character arcs, themes and genres, so you're in for a little bit of everything wrapped up in a glittering, smoky, sci-fi package directed by Bill Walters and performed by UNM students.

The "hosts" of the production are Dack and Donna, played by students Quinn Rol and Ashley Brown, respectively. Their costumes cue the audience that this play is something different: Dack wears a 1920s-style suit and fedora, and Donna wears a black dress that's at the same time grungy and burlesque while strutting around in sparkling high heels. Dack and Donna are present throughout the play, alternating between observing and interfering with the actions of other characters, orchestrating a grand scheme to intertwine their lives. Rol and Brown both bring strong performances and make effective narrators while still portraying clear characters of their own. When they're not influencing the plot progression, they work as "listeners" at O.P.M.E: the Off Planet Message Exchange that sends messages into space in hopes of making alien contact.

Port Twilight is a place of in-betweens, a temporary home for the lost and searching. There's the recently fired scientist Daniel (Van Hollenbeck); the down-on-her-luck waitress Juliette (Gina Ferraro); the movie director Marty (Tino Brokaw), trying to make the next big sci-fi sensation; his golden-girl lead actress Kimmie (Betty Moore); and the former-Brown-professor-turned-screenwriter Abby (Stephanie Grilo), struggling to meet Marty's vision. Finally, there's the Rabbi (Jose Castro) grieving over his daughter's (Laura Hosek) addiction to the strange drugs provided via wires and tentacles at the Port Twilight clinic. Meanwhile, the Rabbi's servant (Stephen Armijo) is hopelessly in love with the Rabbi's daughter, but her father refuses to let him see her.

In the midst of the intertwined sci-fi plotlines, the characters often fall into drinking, dancing, love and philosophizing. The dialogue is peppered with heavy phrases like, "Who are we human beings, and what are we to become?" and "Shadows we are and like shadows we depart." And it is within these musings that lies the main theme of the play: the brevity of life and the importance of living happily and finding love while we can, so that even amidst the most intergalactic-feeling story we find the most universal of morals.

On top of skillful acting and directing, the production quality of Port Twilight is also impressive. The set is a conglomerate of varying backgrounds, lighting, music and video. All set pieces are either on wheels or small enough to be carried, making for smooth and regular transitions between different locations, although we never leave the port. The costumes are worth a second glance as well. All of these elements effectively combine to bring the strange, alternate reality of Port Twilight to life.

Port Twilight runs April 26, 27, and 28 at 7:30pm and April 29 at 2:00pm in UNM's Rodey Theatre, housed inside Popejoy Hall on main campus. Tickets are $15 General, $12 Faculty and Seniors, and $10 Staff and Students and can be purchased through the UNM Ticket Office at 505-925-5858 or online at

--Sarah Parro

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