Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review of 20% Theatre Chicago's Spark

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Spark. It was by Caridad Svich and directed by Denise Yvette Serna. It was about three sisters, Evelyn (Isaly Viana), Ali (Jenn Geiger), and Lexie (Gaby Moldovan) Glimord who are struggling to adjust to living together again when Lexie comes back from military service. Evelyn is in a relationship with a car salesman, Hector (Magdiel Carmona), and Ali, the youngest, wants to be a boxer. Lexie is angry at Evelyn when she comes back because she blames Evelyn for some of her trauma. It is about sisterhood, recovering from trauma, and origins. This play had intriguing themes, but I wanted to see more complexity in the character relationships and more clarity in the plot.

I think the strongest scene for showing the relationship between the sisters was when they were all out on the porch tending to Ali's wounds after a boxing match. I thought it was lovely how they were helping Ali deal with her hurt. It was also really sweet how Evelyn wanted to take care of Ali and was like a mother figure to her. I think why it was hard for Evelyn to have Lexie back was that Ali also really looked up to her and the older sisters have very different ideas about life. Evelyn is very spiritual and works hard, while Lexie thinks more that you have to fight to get what you want. Ali is inspired by Lexie's return to be more like her and enter the military. But also to box, literally fighting. She comes back from the fight and she is pretty beat up. But she still won, which means that even if you have gotten what you wanted, you can still be damaged in the process. I think that is a very true sentiment.

I have a theory that they were implying that when Lexie goes out into the woods to get drunk and meets this guy (Vito Vittore) that the guy was a apparition or a figment of her imagination. The lights turned purple. I think they might have been implying that that character was Lexie's dad. He sang at the end about children, sons and daughters. And he had been in the military, just like her dad. It would have been nice to actually resolve that and figure out what was happening instead of not addressing it again. That is a pretty significant encounter for Lexie, but she never really dives into it. She does come back home after, so you see that she has changed, but you don't really know by whom she has been changed or for what reason. She embraces her family and wants to be closer to them, which is another reason I think it might have been the apparition of her father in the woods. There is a possibility that I missed something, but I think the play could have been clearer.

I feel like the show's relationships weren't completely believable all the time. I also felt like the characters didn't have very many levels. These things are related, because if a character only has a few notes, then they can't have multiple levels in their relationships. The dialogue was often first level; people just say what they mean. And sometimes the conversations seemed to build up to nothing. There was a scene where Evelyn was laying out sticks on a blanket to help her sister find her way home. I thought that was going be some kind of metaphor, but it turned out she actually believed the sticks would create a magical a path to help her sister get home. It could be it was a metaphor for their family's heritage giving them direction, but that didn't really seem to happen in the play. This show often seems like it is going to give some meaning to what you see, but sometimes it doesn't come through.

People who would like this show are people who like boxing, possible paternal apparitions, and magical sticks on blankets. This is a show that makes you think a lot and has a lot of interesting themes like sisterhood, war, and abandonment.

Photos: kClare McKellaston

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