Welcome to Pages & Stages, SFR's weekly literary and performing arts blog, which is available every Tuesday at SFReporter.com. The American outlet mall is a mysterious place full of big bargains and little trinkets. Fashion Outlets of Santa Fe's curious and commercial setting holds a myriad of consumerist wonders (and general dearth of customers) in addition to Theater Grottesco's rehearsal space, which, for the immediate present, also serves as a performance space.---
Grottesco's latest production of OM: Ten Tiny Epics in an Outlet Mall is, appropriately, a collection of 10 short plays clocking in at three to 17 minutes each. Some humorous, some sad, all quirky and poignant, these shorts contain a lot of movement in small packaging. Riveted attention is warranted from the moment the house lights dim. Artistic Director John Flax appears to introduce the company, request cell phone silence and ask the audience some survey questions as required by the City of Santa Fe.
Sound odd? It is. Partway through, Flax's cell phone rings. It's all part of the performance and, from this moment on, the audience knows it's in for something special. Behind a black curtain stands one of the most
stages ever to grace Santa Fe. Three walls made up entirely of recycled doors occupy the interior of the space. The doors—multicolored, many
stretch up toward the low ceiling, and the placement of knobs above the performers' heads creates the illusion that the action taking place on stage is somehow squat and insignificant. But it's just an illusion.
, a pair of disgruntled landlords try to collect rent from a noisy tenant. Utilizing the many stage doors to create a sense of frenetic action, the landlords continually begin talking to the tenant, see him working out (on an elevated platform at the back of the stage of doors) and leave via a different route. Growing irritated with his intrusive masters, the tenant undergoes a divine transformation, and the landlords and audience alike learn something humorous about the nature of God and His view on the way we treat our meat.
, a lonely astronaut (Rod Harrison) hangs suspended in a mess of cables in his pod, transmitting over a dead radio for rescue as his orbit expands. The actor is pulled upward and suspended in the cables, his body goes rigid and suddenly he's not an astronaut anymore. On the back wall of doors, his shadow casts the outline of a whale surrounded by a sea of blue, and a recorded message plays about a whale, the only one of its kind, crying out for companionship and not finding it.
has a single figure (Kate Kita) repelling down from the ceiling in a harness made of tangled extension cables. She opens a cubby on the side to reveal a radio and immerses herself and the audience in a quick glimpse of spiritual ritual.
, a pair of hotel superintendents go about their duties while bearing witness to the strange goings-on of the hospitality industry.
, adapted from a short story by Jim Grace, a manservant (Harrison) appears on stage with a food cart covered in a white tablecloth. He holds up a metal can and informs the audience: "Someone has taken the label off the can." What follows is an existential glimpse into the nature of curiosity and desire. What is inside the can? Is it salmon, pineapple? Is it a plague that will wipe out mankind, or is it God? Everyone, he concludes, should have a can like this, that they might experience, too, the temptation and innocence of wondering what is in the can.
OM: TEN TINY EPICS IN AN OUTLET MALL
Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 23-26
$8-$18, Thursday pay-what-you-wish
Fashion Outlets of Santa Fe
8380 Cerrillos Road