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Daida Mundo Begins Their Summer Season at the Riverside Theater

By Michael Maiello

The first installment of the weekly Daida Mundo show went from phone sex to confessional booths to Africa to rugby games. Using short-form scripted material and long-form improvisation, Daida packed worlds into less than two hours. It was the perfect fix for those who crave hyperactive realities.

Daida is home-grown from the Albuquerque theater scene, and they're the first group of local actors to create a distinct, recognizable and probably patentable theatrical style. The troupe--all women this time--has realized the potential seeded by the first Daida troupe in 1994.

The first half of the show was sketch comedy, short dramas and quick improv games. The conventions of Daida improv (actors create all sound effects, mime all props, have only folding chairs for set pieces) served the scripted material well. Scripted material that would fall flat on "Saturday Night Live" (but hey, what doesn't?) works for Daida, because the actors work so hard to create every new environment without the benefit of heavy technical support. Making it look easy kills comedy. Part of the fun comes from watching the actors work.

The second half of the show, a long-form improv, made the troupe work like non-union coal miners. I took great delight in watching the troupe form an honest-to-God story with subplots around the subject of rugby. About 10 minutes into the piece, I started to worry for them. I wondered if they could actually take this idea somewhere. Five minutes later, I wondered how they could possibly have gotten to where they are from where they were.

As both actors and writers, Marya Jones and Erin Seaborg were the stand-outs of the first night's show. Their talent for physical comedy created a brilliant Charlie Chaplin-style sketch out of a musical improv game. Each week's a different show, but the troupe has grown in competence and consistency over the years. So I'd suggest there's little chance of catching Daida on an off night.

--Michael Maiello

Daida Mundo plays Wednesdays at 8 p.m. at the Riverside Theatre, 114 Washington SE. Tickets $5. Runs through mid-August. Call 254-8393.

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