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Scary Fairy Tale Tells the Fate of Two Sisters

Scary Fairy Tale Tells the Fate of Two Sisters

“Goblin Market” is a creative and ambitious two-hander running on the main stage at Aux Dog Theatre in Nob Hill through November 13 (tickets at www.auxdog.com), located at a pleasant distance from the ART construction.

“Goblin Market” is part classic musical, part tragedy, part fairy tale, and part devised theater—a creative, magical, and collaborative ingredient sorely lacking in Albuquerque’s thriving theater scene. To call the 1985 musical, based on a 1862 poem, a challenge would be an understatement. It is an eerie, fascinating, and enchanting piece of literature, music, and theater.

“Goblin Market” weaves through time and space to tell the story of two sisters battling ominous demons. It is, at its core, an allegory, and the goblins themselves are open to interpretation. Gender dynamics, sexual expression, and addiction all come in to the play. And while the lines themselves can be ambiguous, the direction and design elements steer the play with clarity and certainty.

Directed by VJ Liberatori with Musical Director Nathaniel Flake, composer of the live score, the show stars Kir Kipness and Lisa Fenstermacher in two of the most physically and vocally demanding roles available today. The entire team traverses the magical world of the play with commitment to the story and their own roles. The play is transportive. We begin in a world reminiscent of a music box, and as we go further into the goblins’ glen, the songs become more haunted.

However, there are moments when the additional sound design distracts from the world being created on stage. The organic voices, piano, loudly closing boxes, and footsteps that create the majority of the play’s aural landscape made me wish the thunder and whisper cues could have found another way in, rather than through the speakers.

Kir Kipness and Lisa Fenstermacher are talented actors and the play is a showcase for them. Lizzie (Kipness) plays the “good” sister with celestial charm and Laura (Fenstermacher) plays the fiery one, who can’t seem to resist the pull of the goblins. Both actresses’ tasks were immense, and they performed them with the kind of intensity and variety needed. Crucially, Kir and Fenstermacher brought a palpable dedication to their character arcs, a gift to the audience that ensured we understood the journey of the piece. Their work—like the set itself—is clean, clear and sharp, and would be an inspiration to any young student of theater.

One of Aux Dog’s primary goals has been to offer Albuquerque work that extends beyond the standard fare. This is a theater where, unlike many others, you are likely to see off-Broadway endeavors, contemporary writers, and regional premiers.  Producing Artistic Director Liberatori does not shy away from a challenge.  And—as the standing ovation at this Sunday’s matinee proves—Liberatori and her team faced this mini-monster of a play with grace, success, and artfulness.  “

Sheridan Johnson is an active member of the Albuquerque theater community and a graduate of St. Andrews University in Scotland.