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Review: THE SPIN at Street Corner Arts

BWW Review: Street Corner Arts Wows Virtually With THE SPIN

Review: THE SPIN at Street Corner Arts

Street Corner Arts, one of Austin's most dynamic theatre companies, ventures into the virtual realm in a big way with the regional premiere of THE SPIN written and directed by Spenser Davis.

It's been a long, long year for theatre companies. A year of struggling to find a significant footing in our Covid-19 pandemic world. Some have put out virtual play readings, some have broadcast performances that test the boundaries of what we know as traditional theatre. Let's face it, virtual performances have been creative, but not always successful. For arts writers, like myself, it's been a year of struggle too. How do we review/inform the public? Thankfully, the virtual medium is catching on and we are catching up. With the vaccines available, hopefully it won't be long until we are back in the audience watching live performances, where we belong. In the meantime, companies like Street Corner Arts are triumphant in a new medium and entertaining audiences again with style.

THE SPIN by Spenser Davis has all the production values of a high-end sitcom. Its pacing is quick, the actors are natural on camera and the script is razor sharp with a biting wit. Amazingly the cast is split between Chicago and Austin, because, why not? Technology has shown us that geography is just a map. The story is told through a Zoom meeting that is relatable to anyone who has had to video conference with colleagues or in a classroom in the last 12 months. Kudos to both actors and production staff for the seamless presentation; we have all seen these meetings degenerate into total chaos. The play opens with a team of 'spin doctors' that have been been engaged to help the unseen Mayor distance himself from a city official involved in an unspeakable scandal. What we see is a behind the scenes look at these personal publicity specialists at work. These media professionals Tweet, hashtag and create memes in real time during a live cable news interview with a city hall representative.The goal is to create social media buzz to sway their audience by getting ahead of the story. THE SPIN is a fascinating, darkly comedic peek behind the curtain. The personal by-play and relationships between the characters are on point throughout the show. There is eventually a twist in the tale that I won't give away, except to say that it leaves the audience stunned and gives us a realistic punch in the gut. I was honestly watching the final moments of the performance with my jaw on the floor.

Playwright Spenser Davis infuses his characters life and depth within the confines of the small Zoom box, a feat that is nothing short of miraculous. An award winning writer based in Chicago, Davis shows mastery of his craft by bringing us into the very lives of the people on our screen as if they were live in person and on stage. Davis has also directed this production to perfection; nothing, no matter how small has been overlooked. The entire show had the feel of a network production, from actors to tech, it's impressive in every aspect. The cast includes a commanding Mike Ooi as Loren, in tandem with a quietly powerful Shariba Rivers as Deidre as the fearless ringleaders of the circus. Slightly scatter-brained Kelsey Mazak and an hilarious Zac Carr are wonderful as the constantly plugged in flunkies of the team. Perhaps favorite pairing of the show is the glorious Natalie Garcia as K.C., Mayor's spokeswoman and handsomely condescending Jason Graf as pompous newsman, Paul. Their on-air battle for that 'gotcha moment' is contentious and cringeworthy in turns. My highest compliments are for Screen Manager, Morgan Brochu, who flawlessly handled the technology, a feat of pure magic. I'm a fan of production detail and I was beyond thrilled by the detail given to THE SPIN. The random post-it notes, the bag full of markers, the bowl of cereal, all thrill me to death. It's the details that give this production life and set it far above most efforts to produce virtual entertainment this year. But I would expect nothing less of Street Corner Arts.

As virtual spectators the audience is taken on an unforgettable ride in a sound bite, media driven world we aren't normally privy to. This dark comedy (and it is the very definition of dark comedy) is worth every moment of your time. I do recommend using the full screen option as there is text on screen that you don't want to miss. So get your tickets, pop the popcorn, grab the beverage of your choice and login for a highly entertaining hour while supporting performing arts in Austin and Chicago.


by Spenser Davis

Street Corner Arts

April 15 - 25 at 8:00 PM

Running Time: 1 hour with no intermission.

Tickets: $10 - (There is a free option and a virtual tip jar)

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