Roberta on the Arts
"Spirit Control" at Manhattan Theatre Club
Contact Roberta
Jazz and Cabaret Corner
On Location with Roberta
In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers
Backstage with the Playwrights and Filmmakers
Classical and Cultural Connections
New CDs
Arts and Education
Onstage with the Dancers
Offstage with the Dancers
Upcoming Events
Special Events
Culture from Chicago
Our Sponsors

"Spirit Control" at Manhattan Theatre Club

- Backstage with the Playwrights

The New Yorker Hotel
The New Yorker Hotel is a historical,
first-class, landmark hotel.

481 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
(866) 800-3088

Spirit Control

By Beau Willimon
Directed by Henry Wishcamper

Manhattan Theatre Club
City Center Stage I
West 55th Street, Btw. 6th and 7th Avenues

Mia Barron as Maxine/Girl at the bar
Charles Borland as FAA Official/Bill
Aaron Michael Davies as Tommy Wyatt
Brian Hutchison as Karl Jensen
Maggie Lacey as Jess Wyatt
Jeremy Sisto as Adam Wyatt

Artistic Director, Lynne Meadow
Executive Producer, Barry Grove
Scenic Design, Robin Vest
Costume Design, Jenny Mannis
Lighting Design, Natasha Katz
Sound Design, Broken Chord
Production Design, Aaron Rhyne
Original Music, Chas Willimon
Production Stage Manager, Alison DeSantis
Casting, David Caparelliotis
General Manager, Florie Seery
Assoc. Artistic Director, Mandy Greenfield
Director of Marketing, Debra Waxman-Pilla
Production Manager, Kurt Gardner
Director of Casting, Nancy Piccione
Press Representative, Boneau/Bryan-Brown

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 10, 2010

The element of chance encounter is introduced in the first scene of this almost riveting play, as two air traffic controllers toss radio signals, banter about family, and bond about women, until they hear the sound of the youthful Maxine (Mia Barron), whose aircraft pilot is now a corpse. Maxine fears her ability to overcome fear itself, and, more importantly, sheís never touched the controls. Adam Wyatt (Jeremy Sisto), macho hero that he embraces, is suddenly thrown into a life-altering moment, the role of saving or losing a strangerís young life. This harrowing rescue attempt would be worth at least an act, but itís an abbreviated preview into the St. Louis lives of its two male leads. Adam is maintaining a threadbare marriage to Jess Wyatt (Maggie Lacey, in an all-too restrained performance), and their one son, Tommy Wyatt (Aaron Michael Davies), becomes his motherís alter ego.

Speaking of alter egos, Adam meets a Girl at the bar, also Mia Barron, now a devilish seductress, in total contrast to Jess, the straight-laced Midwestern homemaker. Is she real? Is she Maxine on the ďother sideĒ? We never know. And, the alter egos keep cloning, as Karl Jensen (Brian Hutchison), Adamís best friend and co-controller, assumes Adamís role, in Adamís home, with Adamís wife and son, and itís Christmas. In between, thereís a scene in the woods, as Adam designs his Thoreau-like existence, but with the seductress coming and going through doors and darkness. Tommy visits, and sparks fly, all set against the image of axe and firewood.

I found myself lost in Act II, ironically, wishing for flashbacks of the real Maxine and some plot-twist connections. Robin Vestís engaging scenery Ė the air traffic control board, the woodland construction, Adam and Jessí living room, the bar - all begged for more substance, with such unrealized dramatic potential. Beau Willimon kept Act II amorphous and foggy, much like Maxineís dreaded view from the sky. Among the cast, I found Aaron Michael Davies, as Adamís son Tommy, the most textured character, one adapting to sudden change with natural nuance. If only heíd been in the cockpit with Maxine, but thatís another play.

Oliver Tickets > Dirty Dancing Tickets > Musical Tickets > Jimmy Carr Tickets >
Peter Kay Tickets > Ricky Gervais Tickets > Theatre Tickets

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at