Photo by Don Kellogg

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spirit Control

At first glance, one might think "Another cheerleader play"?  Alas, Spirit refers to an airfield in St. Louis and Control refers to the air-traffic control tower.  Now that we have that all cleared up - let's get this review off the ground.  Two hours - perfect length.  Jeremy Sisto - seems to nail the "wildly intense" and slightly disturbed" character with aplomb (Billy in HBO's Six Feet Under, Michael in Broadway's Festen, Det. Lupo in NBC's Law & Order).  Another bulls-eye here with Adam Wyatt.  Kudos, also, to a stand out performance by a young (and damn cute) up-and-coming performer - Arron Michael Davies (Tommy Wyatt). 

The play moves along somewhat predictably if you even breifly investigated what you were going to see - - something about an air traffic controller, a plane crash, and some dramatic circumstances that follow.   Sisto nails the first scene in the control tower magnificently.  What follows, however, is not so straightforward.  What I realized as the play progressed is that Maxine is not real.  Maxine, albeit a real human being on stage, (with real dialogue and comprehensible circumstances surrounding her) is just his twisted mind trying to grapple with the aftermath of his actions and the crash. 

Playwright, Beau Willimon, in my opinion has written a tremendous opus that asks us to explore how the subconscious can tear us, our families, and our lives apart if we we allow it.  However, he has, early on, thrown in so much that is believable, real, and tangible into the Maxine character (Mia Barron) that I think (correction, i know, based on my conversation with many confused patrons leaving the theatre - self included) that it didn't quite hit its mark.  By the time we got to the third and final scene - I assumed most people would have figured out (or at least suspected) what Maxine represented.  It could have ended without the curve-ball of one of the characters actually taking a multi-media dream sequence/aside (to Wyatt, however, not the audience directly) and explaining what we already should have known.  It was a crazy sequence that threw too much confusing, theoretical, and ultimately speculative information at the audience.  On a separate note, I also wondered why we were repeatedly told Wyatt had two sons, but then were only introduced to one of them, Tommy, on several occasions.  As the old saying goes "If you introduce a gun (or two, in this case) in Act I, you'd better use it (both, in this case) in Act II. 

I, for one, would rather have left the theatre asking some probing questions rather than asking "Did he really need to do that"?