A Phase, by Elise Spoerlein, examines a young woman’s life post-breakup in the shiny and scary new landscape of Chicago. It is successfully reminiscent, poignant, and funny. Spoerlein deals with the cliché of a young girl discovering herself in the big city in an inventive and fresh way. Her dialogue is witty, her characters are human, and she pounds society’s crude expectations and prejudices of young women in this successful and beautiful new play.
A Phase is about someone transitioning to a new environment. This is something most people associate with; therefore, many plays attempt to deal with these situations. Many new plays fail to move past the navel-gazing of young urbanites dealing with personal issues and challenge the theatrical form with inventive storytelling and perspectives. Spoerlein captures the excitement of moving into Chicago for the first time (punctuated by the nostalgic and inventive use of video and projections) and navigating the opportunity of reinventing oneself without this short-sightedness. In fact, the play is built upon subverting the expectations of a relationship drama.
Spoerlein also plays the main character in the production. As she is onstage the entire time, the audience experiences Sam’s world through both her eyes and the four men that come onstage each scene. These men are only present for one scene each and, on the surface, could be considered stereotypes or gross representations of maleness. And they are. But those gross people exist in real life. And it is important to note the similarity between Spoerlein’s treatment of male characters to that of a play such as Neil LaBute’s Some Girls.
Sharp direction, poignant and witty dialogue, and fantastic actors make A Phase successful on every level. Sadly, I saw the closing performance. But please support Broken Nose Theatre in their next endeavors and the brave decision to become a Pay What You Can company.
A Phase closed on March 26th. For more information about Broken Nose Theatre and Elise Spoerlein.