Kelsey is a Chicago based producer, actor, writer, critic, and mixologist. An alum of Black Box Acting’s ACADEMY Program, Kelsey curates “The Newness,” a monthly salon of new work. They also work closely with Trans Voices Cabaret Chicago as well as Chicago Theatre Access Auditions. Follow them on Insta! @playsandpours, @kelseylooks
Pictured (l – r): Danny Turek, Morgan Burkey, Jin Park, Peter Anderson, Mikey Gray, and Preston Choi. Photo courtesy of The Passage Theatre.
By Kelsey McGrath
SPIRITS TO ENFORCE is The Passage Theatre’s inaugural production and a daring undertaking. Mickle Maher’s playful, poetic text is a tangle of Shakespeare, superheroes, actors, and the (very real) plight of theatre fundraising. Drifting in and out of mundanity to heightened reality, the chaotic storytelling of SPIRITS TO ENFORCE leans into ideas of grandiose mythology in a way that allows us to become the superheroes we’ve always wanted to be.
The journey of these actors takes place from behind a very long desk. Their strong, grounded character choices enliven the seemingly mundane office environment. Actor choices with telephones and pens and pencils and kleenexes ground the poetry as we drift in and out of their superhero world. The ensemble crisply navigates the twists and turns of choreography and text, creating a rhythm and breath to Maher’s chaotic plot. Director Will Quam has implemented a precision that acts as an anchor as we shifted between realities.
The Passage Theatre’s mission is to “tell great stories with truth and simplicity… and to inspire our audiences to move through life deliberately.” A laudable goal, however, this show felt like it was made for theatre people by theatre people. Which is fine, it just needs acknowledgment. I felt like my gaps in knowledge were unsupported on this wild adventure. Is it necessary to care for folks like me, who aren’t as familiar with Shakespeare?
SPIRITS TO ENFORCE is a tight, excellent production with a lot of HEART and bursting with talents from all ends. I can’t wait to see what The Passage Theatre creates next.
SPIRITS TO ENFORCE runs through November 17. For more information visit thepassagetheatre.com.