Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe


Theater Grottesco
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Dean's reviews of The Father and First Date

Image Courtesy of Grottesco
Spoiler alert—an actor eats a lemon on stage. Bite by bite, the whole lemon, a big fat one. Along the way, he spits out a seed here, a seed there. Not sure what this spoiler might spoil, but I gotta say, watching an actor slowly and deliberately eat a lemon live is one of the most riveting acts I've seen on stage. Kinda squinches up your face just watching.

The act of eating the lemon is also suspenseful for the actors. There are four actors on stage, and on a given night, the actors don't know which one of will have to eat the lemon. They discover which one it is in real-time.

Pie is a non-linear drama. Four characters enter the stage timidly and take a seat at a draped conference-style table. They are apparently, panelists waiting for a moderator who never shows up. Tensions build, then suddenly, the world tips out of control with dramatic sounds and lighting that grips the actors and—boom—they're on their way through a trippy reality that never quite rights itself. Watching the craziness unfold is a treat, and surprisingly entertaining given there's not a conventional storyline.

We do get to know the characters a bit. They're played by Apollo Garcia, Tara Khozein, Danielle Reddick, and John Fax. Each of the actors wrote a good portion of his or her dialog, in collaboration with director Kent Kirkpatrick. Pie was inspired by the Carl Sagan quote: "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." In the spirit of the quote, Theater Grottesco does indeed invent a universe.

Theater Grottesco has been around for a few years. The company began in Paris in 1983. They moved to the U.S. in 1985, spent time based in New York and then in Detroit before moving to Santa Fe in 1996. With Pie, the actors perform a variety of dance, mime, acrobatics, and pure absurdity. Reality shows up in a few twisted instances of game shows and river rafting. We even get a lovely allusion to Beetlejuice.

The performance defies description, yet it's superb in its execution and imagination. Garcia is responsible for the choreography, while Khozein is the musical director. Lighting, which plays a major role in the production, is designed by Skip Rapoport, with sound—also profound—by J.A. Deane.

I strongly encourage audience members to stay afterwards for the brief talk-back, if for no other reason than to see that these strange and beautiful creations that wander the stage are able to revert to human form when called upon.

Pie, through January 27, 2018, at the Q-Staff Theatre, 400 Broadway SE, Albuquerque NM. Performance times are 7:00 pm Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. General admission is $15, with $10 admission available for seniors and students. Reserve tickets at or by calling 505-474-8400.