Jonald Jude Reyes is a Writer, Performer & Director in Chicago, IL. His works have been performed in various theaters city-wide, including Stage 773, The Annoyance, and The Second City. In 2016, he was named Best of Stage Director by the Chicago Reader and was selected to the DirectorsLabChicago program. Learn more at http://www.jonaldjude.com.
Pictured: The cast of SWEEP. Photo courtesy of Coffee & Whiskey Productions.
“We believe in risk, fail, risk again,” Luna says to her sister, Siri, as part of their petition for a do-over. The two are stuck in the gutter and are speaking to the Lord so that they can receive their mission. The sister sweepers then learn that they must obliterate Adam and Eve. From that point forward, the audience time hops to various incarnations of Adam and Eve, which include subplots of John the Baptist & his wife, and a modern day couple living in New York City.
In Coffee & Whiskey’s production of Georgina Escobar’s SWEEP, the risk and fail is the overabundance of themes and drawn out scenes. The use of language at the top of the play seems overcomplicated but still creates a fantastical world full of imagination. The scenery placed within the Greenhouse Theater is playful and successfully sets a colorful sci-fi, comic book tone to the piece. And a fun logistical element incorporated throughout is the use of familiar songs like Styx’s “Come Sail Away,” Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” and many others.
Siri (Alejandra Vivanco) and Luna (Robin Minkens) have solid stage presence and help move scenes, which often feel longer than necessary, forward. They have a playful moment where they rock out with their magical brooms, which still have the power to obliterate, and really play toward the light hearted feel of the play. Vivanco displays her physicality when she gets hooked on honey in a later scene which really stretches the fantasy of Escobar’s world. Adam (Wesley James) and Eve (Michelle Alejandra Limon) have good chemistry with each other, especially near the end of the play when they transition into playing the modern-day NYC couple. Limon really shows her range in portraying an over-the-top Jewish stereotype as John the Baptist’s wife.
Though lengthy, the play has a strong feminist message. Escobar’s concept of sweeping the past to fix the future is full of insight into what is happening around us these days, but the fantastical side of this play loads a lot of layers that weaken the strength of the message. There’s also a heavy helping of religious references that some audiences may miss if not familiar. With so much playful energy and ideas looming within this world, it may have had more success through simplicity.
SWEEP runs through March 25th. For more information visit coffeeandwhiskeyproductions.com.