Factory Theater Presents THE ADVENTURES OF SPIRIT FORCE FIVE Review – Far From Lametown

Factory Theater THE ADVENTURES OF SPIRIT FORCE FIVE
Featuring cast members of The Adventures of Spirit Force Five

The lights go up on a fantasy townsperson, dressed like some combination of a smurf and a lawn gnome, bound and on his knees. He is facing Lady Mauron, a villain to rival the likes of Rita Repulsa or Him from the Powerpuff Girls. In full dominatrix garb, and flanked by several of her minions in steampunk goggles and grey hoodies (called “goobers”), she stands in anger, and violently slaps her thighs, releasing her vagina powers on the helpless villager. He screams and shrieks, convulsing violently, then falls to the floor. One of the goobers starts to protest, but can only release turkey gobbles until Lady Mauron breaks the spell with a wave of her hand and a snap. This is a 90s cartoon after dark.

Stay Positive!

The Adventures of Spirit Force Five tells the story of a group of peppy cheerleaders, and their slowly maturing boy scout companion, and their mission to save the denizens of Lametown (a fantasy locale in a parallel dimension). This world has magic, confetti instead of blood, and an enormous talking tree that evokes the lovechild of Shel Silverstein and the Deku Tree (albeit a sex-crazed one). The love and passion for the genre is immediately evident in the production, thanks to the quippy and self-referential playwriting and lyrics by Jill Oliver, who also wonderfully plays the mystical gypsy guide Lolahdy and choreographed the show! Fans of Captain Planet, Power Rangers, Teen Titans, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or really any Cartoon Network or Hanna-Barbera show featuring super-powered minors is going to get a huge kick out of this show. On a similar note, this production is truly a raunchy comedy sci-fi fantasy extravaganza, so those looking for Ibsen and Chekov realism, or a fun show for the whole family, might want to sit this one out.

Clean, Clear, and Comical

Every element of this production gives the show extra pop, like the marshmallows in your Lucky Charms you ate those fabled Saturday mornings. A few examples are the opening announcements, which are actually a full cheer recorded by the cast, the lights (by Claire Sangster) subtly illuminating the Wanderer’s spherical magic weapons in differing neon colors, and the full design team’s efforts to execute puppetry to match his erotic language. There are so many little gems like this to notice and discover throughout the show, which makes the show itself a sort of fantasy scavenger hunt.

Factory Theater Sells It Well, And Makes Fun Of It Too

For this audience member and parody fan, what truly makes or breaks a play like this is commitment to the vibrant characters and melodramatic script, and this cast delivers. Kevin Alves’ Coack K is a bumbling but fearless mentor, taking every opportunity he can to accidentally throw his cape back into someone’s face. The show is also constantly aware of just how ridiculous it is, which makes it all the more fun. In a particular introductory moment, he walks out in true video game cutscene noir, only to realize that it’s raining and put up an umbrella. In fight scenes, complete with full cheerleader routine battements and mystical energy balls, you may notice that the slow-motion battle amongst the ensemble members is actually a simple thumb war with aggressively high stakes. Though the show only runs 65 minutes, the cast is exhausted by the end, and quite deserving of the applause.

Factory Theater THE ADVENTURES OF SPIRIT FORCE FIVE
Jill Oliver
Factory Theater THE ADVENTURES OF SPIRIT FORCE FIVE
Elise Marie Davis , Tommy Bullington
Elise Marie Davis
Factory Theater THE ADVENTURES OF SPIRIT FORCE FIVE
Carmen Molina, Joshua Servantez, Stephanie Shum, Abby Blankenship, Kevin Alves

Recommended

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

Cast:

Carmen Molina
Stephanie SHum
Abby Blankenship
Joshua Servantez
Kevin Alves
Elise Marie Davis
Jill Oliver
Eric Thomas Roach
Corrbette Pasko
Charlie Irving
Tommy Bullington
Brittney Brown
Kelley Holcomb
Genna Lynn Guidry
Justin Blankenship
David Trudeau
Koya Frye
Pernell Myers
Alyssa Balogh

Creative:

Jill Oliver
Spenser Davis
Kim Boler
Phil Claudnic
Rose Hamill
Devon Green
Therese Ritchie
Claire Sangster
C.W. Van Baale
Eric Backus
Rachel Sypniewski
Sara Keller
Jill Frederickson
Laura McKenzie
Maureen Yasko
Chris Smith
Jason Moody

When:

Thru August 11th
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.

Where:

Factory Theater
1623 W. Howard St.
Chicago, IL

Tickets:

$18-25
Factory Theater Website

Photos by Michael Courier

 

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

NATE HALL
Nate Hall Photo: Jeff Day

About the Author

Nate is an actor/composer/playwright currently based in Chicago, and originally from Los Alamos, New Mexico. He is the first graduate of Texas Tech's BFA Musical Theatre program, and has been acting for over six years, performing in the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival and Santa Fe Musical Festival, among others. His plays have been featured in one act/ten-minute play festivals, and his musical Fade Out had it's first reading in December 2017.

See his current work at actornatehall.wordpress.com or on Facebook

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