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BWW Review: THE SPIN at Interrobang Theatre Project

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A Smart and Swift Spin on Politics

BWW Review: THE SPIN at Interrobang Theatre Project

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For those of us who grew up in the '70s, it was an educational tv show on PBS. Now it's a platform that is an integral part of our work and social lives, and one that also provides some entertainment. Personally, I have been very resistant to the latter. It's nothing against the many wonderful Chicago theatre companies doing their best to make it work. It's been my own resistance to accepting what I prefer to call "a temporary normal." If you have been as hesitant as I have to indulge in virtual theatre, it's quite possible Interrobang Theatre Project's (ITP) THE SPIN, may change your mind.

Written and directed by Jeff Award winner, Spenser Davis, and commissioned by ITP, THE SPIN lets the audience be the voyeur to a political spin team's message and interview prep session. The team is lead by Deidre Young (Elana Elyce) and Lorne Collier (Matthew Martinez Hannon), who are supported by Clark Megan (Salar Ardebili) and April Henning (Sarah Gise). The team learns that Mike Bridges, a large city's new Public Works Director, has recently confessed to an unspeakable crime. We observe them crafting a response before briefing a top aide to the Mayor, KC Pecarrero (Laura Berner Taylor), Pecarrero is moments away from an online interview on the matter. The goal is to put distance between City Hall and Bridges. Through some twists, we learn of different connections between some team members, Bridges, and Pecarrero.

At times uncomfortable and unsettling, with just the right balanced nuances of humor, THE SPIN is an inventive and creative look at how quickly we have adjusted to our new surroundings. Using multiple platforms, we not only eavesdrop on the prep session, but we also witness Pecarrero's interview while the team feeds her notes via an earpiece. It's a look at the political world played out with touches of humanity. This grounds it for those of us who wonder if this element even exists in that world.

Davis' format and structure of the spin doctors' war room feel like an episode of The West Wing meets VEEP. Billed as a dark comedy, the script never gets too bogged down in politics. Instead, it allows us a glimpse into how these strategists plan their attack while compartmentalizing their personal stakes in the game. Directing in an online platform clearly takes a unique skill set. Davis has mastered it here with a consistent pace and great attention to detail. This includes chat messages being shared and participants signing on and off with precise timing.

The cast is superb, as they often are with ITP productions. Berner Taylor's portrayal of Pecarrero is a particular standout, as she navigates both the spin meeting and live interview. Her subtle takes to the camera are captivating and she nails every written beat. The dynamic between Elyce and Martinez Hannon is incredibly engaging. Watching them work together left me wishing I could see this credible chemistry live on stage. Gise and Ardebili provide wonderful wit, solid levity, and both work expertly in their chaotic situations.

ITP has a hit on its hands with THE SPIN. I encourage theatergoers who have resisted some of these virtual shows to take a chance on this one. In a swift 60 minutes, you will be entertained in ways that you certainly weren't on your last Zoom work meeting. And maybe, in the near future, we can see something like THE SPIN in person, on stage, where we all can't wait to be again. It would certainly earn many standing ovations.

The Spin will stream via Broadway World from October 30 - November 22, 2020. Tickets ($15) are currently available at interrobangtheatreproject.org.


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From This Author Patrick Rybarczyk