Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Also see Carla's review of Gloria
Playwright Tom Smith has a long line of achievements in entertainment. This Illinois native began his professional life as an improvisational comedian. He founded Walla Walla TheatreSports in 1988. He went on to write plays, some of which have become very popular with local theatre companies. His work has won national and regional awards, and he is also a director, having overseen plays in Kansas City, Seattle, Colorado, and Las Cruces.
The Adobe Theater has delivered an outstanding production of Smith's Drinking Habits. The gist is simple at first, but it gets amazingly complicated as the play proceeds. The setting is a semi-failing convent. Two enterprising nuns have taken it upon themselves to turn grapes into wine and sell it to local residents. This successfully saves the convent financially.
However, there are two catches. First, their Mother Superior is strident in her loathing of alcohol, so the nuns much keep their wine-making secret. Second, two journalists–a man and a woman–from the local paper have heard rumors about illegal winemaking and distribution. They have decided to enter the convent undercover as a nun and a priest in an attempt to get evidence of the crime.
Any development beyond this simple setup would be a spoiler. Things go haywire very quickly, and the action just gets crazier and crazier. The play goes from cute to amusing to funny to hilarious to gut-punching hysterical. I didn't expect that at all. I didn't think the setup was sufficient to get such big laughs, but it is.
The cast works as a strong ensemble, yet individual cast members are outstanding on their own–an odd-but-effective combination. Standouts include Lianne Walk as Sally, Michael Weppler as Paul, and Ashley Reid as Sister Mary Catherine.
The production is well put together by director Yannig Morin. The crew does a wonderful job, including Kaidyn Gogel as stage manager, Shannon Flynn as technical director, Linda Wilson as set designer, Jason Godin as costume designer, and Riley Lews as lighting and sound designer, among others.
This is one of the funniest plays I've seen in years. Drinking Habits is quite an unexpected treat.
Drinking Habits runs through June 25, 2023, at The Adobe Theater, 9813 Fourth St. NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. There will also be a 2 p.m. performance on Saturday, June 17, and a 7:30 p.m. performance on Thursday, June 22. General admission is $24. Discount admission is $20, and student admission is $15. For tickets and information, please visit adobetheater.org or call 505-898-9222.