Directed by Kelsey Leigh Ervi
Lighting Designer – Bryant Yeager
Stage Manager – Alexis Garcia
Puppetry Consult – Kyle Igneczi
Emma – Katlin Moon-Jones
Father – Kyle Igneczi
Ensemble – Henry Greenberg, John Ruegsegger and Seth Womack
Reviewed Performance 3/6/2015
Reviewed by Mary L. Clark, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Let’s go on a journey . . . of the imagination. Travel back in time to when you were little, and make believe was everything. A large cardboard box suddenly became a mighty fortress, a laundry basket sailed you on oceans deep, and billowing bed sheets were tents or clouds floating to unknown worlds. Can you remember that feeling, the ease in which you could go to any place instantly in your mind? That sense of freedom and wonder is the very heart and soul of Kelsey Leigh Ervi’s The Spark, showing at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.
In the lovely, open space of WaterTower Theatre’s Main Stage, imagination is set free to explore, discover and pretend. Using various forms of light, puppetry and found objects, and relying on the audience’s ability to let their own imagination loose, The Spark tells a simple story of Emma, about to start first grade, whose mind fearfully races in the darkness of night. Her father creates stories to comfort, telling her, “Make believe and knowing how to use it . . . is your light in the dark”. Emma’s mind illuminates as her pretend world grows, but reality can fell even the most imaginative child, and the story continues in her search to find that spark of light she once held
Stripping the theatre space back to the walls, save for a back cyc, the set is nothing more than a translucent curtain held by rungs on a line that actors pull from side to side, defining scenes or for shadow puppetry. And in Emma’s storytelling world, her rolling bed becomes a hot air balloon or a puppet stage. A boat oar, clothes hanger and metal pipe are instruments, and folded paper fans the wings of fireflies.
Puppetry plays a big part in The Spark, and under the guidance of Kyle Igneczi, flashlights illuminate shadow clouds, Emma’s air balloon, and the treacherous mountains. Everyday things such as fabric, ping pong ball, curlers and a small suitcase imaginatively form the cutest mouse and a rather wide-mouthed, pink snake.
Bryant Yeager’s lighting design softly carries on the imaginative aura the play has developed. Several incandescent bulbs hang from the ceiling, dimly illuminated or individually bright for emphasis. A floor spot over the actors gently widens and blends into a gobo of soft purples and blues that glides over the back cyc. As Emma and her father’s reality breaks the imagination spell, down spots engulf an actor in a harsh cage of light, as if trapped. The distinctly different visuals Yeager so beautifully creates supports the play like another character on the near empty stage.
Costumes go without credit but all actors have boots of some kind and wear modern clothing. Emma’s short cotton dress signifies her age, Father’s vest his maturity, and aviator helmets and goggles make for funny, endearing fireflies. A few masks, parodying Broadway musicals, are hilarious insider jokes.
Casting Emma and Father with Katlin Moon-Jones and Kyle Igneczi was a genius move as they have both been performing in children and family theatre productions for several years. That immediacy to the world of children plays amazingly well for their characters, and Moon-Jones and Igneczi easily possess a child’s frame of imagination and wonder.
Playing a character from seven to adulthood is quite an acting stretch, but Katlin Moon-Jones’ small frame and deeply expressive face show all the exuberance, confusion and pain of both a child and adult whose imagination once brought her great joy.
Kyle Igneczi’s Father is a child’s dream – a nurturing man that hasn’t yet lost the ability to imagine and pretend. His nightly stories are the things that keep him connected to Emma and allow her own imagination to soar. Igneczi’s slower mature voice separates their ages, his body language and expressions revealing a paternal love and fear. His anguished dance with Emma’s fireflies, as he realizes he’s lost his older child, jerks at the hearts, especially for those with growing children of their own.
The highly enjoyable, talented ensemble, Henry Greenberg, John Ruegsegger and Seth Womack, are masters of character change. Whether as Emma’s imaginary fireflies, her fellow schoolmates, scene changers or puppeteers, these gentlemen expand the plot, move the pace and keep the story full and alive and believable.
Writer Ervi used a gentle hand in creating her characters and directs the actors much the same. Pulling on her own highly-developed imagination, her vision is simple and clean, relying on the hoped for imagination of audiences to fill in the pieces and complete the story.
I close my eyes and think back to The Spark, and it’s like a gentle breeze – light and airy and sweet. Yet that same breeze also turns stormy as a small child loses what her father gave her. She forgot that the spark of imagination never really leaves us; it’s always around us. Sometimes all we need do is look up and smile at the light.
The Spark plays Wednesday, March 11th at 7:30 pm, Friday, March 13th at 9:30 pm, and Sunday, March 15th at 2:00 pm
OUT OF THE LOOP FRINGE FESTIVAL
Addison Conference & Theatre Centre
15650 Addison Road
Addison, TX 75001
The Festival runs from March 6th through March 15th, weekends and weekdays.
All productions have only two-four performances and some theatre space seating is limited
Some productions contain adult language, sexual situations, and/or violence. Please consult the box office for content information regarding a particular production
Festival Passes are $65.00 for one admission to all 20 productions. Individual tickets are $10.00. WaterTower Theatre subscribers receive $10.00 off each festival pass.
For information on and to purchase festival passes and tickets, visit www.watertowertheatre.org or call their box office at 972-450-6232. In person reservations are also welcome, but seating is limited for most performances.