Capsule Stage Reviews: Spirits to Enforce

Ever the contrarians, the folks at The Catastrophic Theatre are running Mickle Maher's Spirits to Enforce, a show that has absolutely nothing to do with the holidays other than the true joy it will bring to all lovers of the avant-garde. Maher imagines a world in which superheroes with names like The Intoxicator (Mikelle Johnson) and Memory Lass (Charlesanne Rabensburg) decide to abandon their duties as the Fathom Town Enforcers and put on a show. We watch as they spend the entire one-act sitting at a phone bank trying to raise money for, or sell tickets to, what promises to be a disastrous production of The Tempest. The smart conceit of having the characters talk into phones allows Maher to bead together a series of poetic monologues that focus on the anxieties of making theater. Everything from creating art with zero dollars to working with a difficult group of actors (one is off looking for a cat when the show actually opens) gets examined. Director Jason Nodler creates an extraordinary energy that starts out high and manages to get almost frenetic before a sort of postmodern epiphany (does such a thing exist?) occurs when a character named Ariel (Walt Zipprian) talks about all the mistakes he made. The ensemble is terrific, but the standouts are Tek Wilson, with her ethereal aqua eyes and porcelain skin, as The Page, along with Zipprian and Johnson (who's hysterical in her big shades and gray hoodie). This production is a savory treat in a season awash in sugar.