Years ago, friends of mine went to see a production of The Pillowman and returned raving about it, but also looking a little battle-scarred, as though the shape of their nightmares had forever shifted. That I missed it haunted me—what had they seen, and what did they now know that I did not?
The Pillowman opens on a freshly arrested writer, Katurian (Hamilton Turner), living in an authoritarian dictatorship and finding himself at the mercy of a torture-happy good cop/bad cop duo (Hania Stocker and Warren Houghteling, respectively). For Katurian, “Once upon a time” perpetually precedes people doing horrible things to one another, which really isn’t all that far from the fairy tales children still grow up with. But now children have begun to die in the bizarrely twisted ways that killed off some of his characters, so the police have arrested him and are threatening him with execution. Ditto his not-all-there brother.
The interrogation cues the retelling of some of his stories, played out in a stark fashion that mirrors their sparse language. In his parables, even what we might see as common and good impulses become weapons of self-destruction. So, too, do their hideously dark moments illustrate the thin barrier between what makes us laugh and what makes us wince.
If you heard murmurs that the Santa Fe Playhouse is pivoting to more experimental and edgy terrain, that promise is certainly delivered upon in this choice, which was declared at its 2005 New York City debut the most exciting thing going on by The New York Times.
The Pillowman offers no territory for the young or easily squeamish. It is not, to be clear, the kind play everyone will enjoy seeing, but it is exactly the kind of work that everyone should see and allow to skew their perspectives for a moment. If only a brief one. (Elizabeth Miller)
Through Aug. 7. $20-$25
Santa Fe Playhouse,
142 E De Vargas St.,
Everybody Walk the DinosaurOhio/Pennsylvania’s Digisaurus has a pretty neat trick up their sleeve: the ability to straddle the fence between commercially viable rock and Grandaddy-meets-Prince-esque synth-pop that is so dancey, so festive, so catchy that all y’all suckers are just gonna love it. “I think it’s a different, new sound that I don’t think is typically out there,” says front man/producer/synth player/guitarist James Allison. “We take a lot of influence from the past and put a modern spin on it, so it’s familiar enough for people to grab onto but new enough for them to experience something different.” Digisaurus also boasts quite the live show with smoke machines, lights and other fun surprises. “We really try to create a show experience,” Allison adds. (Alex De Vore)
9 pm Thursday July 28. Free.
530 S Guadalupe St.,
Self-AwakeningIf misogyny and materialism have kept you away from rap music, it’s time to give it another shot with Albuquerque-based rapper Wake Self, a man who represents a growing social conscience in hip-hop. His new album, Malala, is named after Pakistani women’s education activist Malala Yousafzai. Wake tells SFR that her story inspired him and he hopes his album will lead more people to learn about her. While Malala deals with heavy subject matter like “social patterns and psychological disorders,” Wake says not to worry—his upcoming show at Meow Wolf will be so upbeat, “your face is going to hurt from smiling.” (Andrew Koss)
9 pm Saturday July 30. $10-$15.
1352 Rufina Circle,
In the Napkin-Know5. Gallery opens its doors for the very first time Aug. 1 with a show titled Arbeit: Frank and his Dream. The gallery’s founder, Max Baseman, tells SFR, “In many ways the show is inspired by brute or raw art and artists; works created out of necessity that are more compulsion than decoration.” The gallery sent notifications via snail mail announcing its inaugural exhibition with names of participating artists (Rodger Walker, Haste Bowditch, Chris Alia and others) and details typewritten in stark black with an acutal typewriter, on a thin paper napkin. The invitation sparked our design-fancy and Baseman says he hopes people leave the show feeling “a certain sense of silence.” (Maria Egolf-Romero)
Arbeit: Frank and His Dream
5 pm Monday Aug. 1. Free.
2351 Fox Road