Directed by Peter Cieply
Produced by Immediate Theatre
At Red Tape Theatre, Chicago
Enchantingly different comedy is nicely “for the birds”
Immediate Theatre’s resurrection under Peter Cieply has mounted a quirky and enchanting comedic parable about love, religion and grief. Penned by self-described “gay playwright” Adam Bock, Five Flights uses the symbol of 5’s extensively. The simple set (design by Stephen Carmody) is underscored by Michael Fernandez’s fine video projections that feature flying birds and various location scenes.
The play is a mixture of styles containing a gay relationship, family quarrels plus the haunting effects of bird obsession turned into a religion featuring a gay professional hockey player who loves ballet. This enchanting work is a mixture of hilarity and heartbreak that challenges the normal conventions of storytelling. It works because of the passion and intensity of the characters.
Siblings Ed (Nick Freed) and Adele (Melonie Collmann) and another unseen brother inherit an enormous aviary from their recently deceased father who built the baviary to house the soul of his wife believed to be transformed into a wren (bird). What to do with the crumbling tribute to their father’s eternal love. Ed and Adele are not sure what to do but Olivia (Emily Gann), Adele’s best friend wants to make the location a sanctuary for her newly formed “The Church of the Fifth Day” – a religion based on the believe that bids are biblical God symbols and that the fifth day is holy because birds were created on that day.
The symbol of 5’s dominates here as Jane (Mildred Marie Langford), the unseen brother’s wife argues with Olivia that the aviary should be sold for a shopping center or for condos. The battle ensues.
Ed and Adele waver concerning the future of the aviary as the influence of the bird religion promoted by Olivia takes hold. Ed meets Tom (Chris Carr) who instantly falls in love with Ed as witnessed by one long gay kiss. Issues of faith, sexuality, commitment and the desire for things just out of reach propel this strange show.
Watching the ballet scene that has 5 actors moving in rhythm of a Russian ballet was hilarious. Five Flights, of course, has 5 scenes as it violates many of the rules of theatre and storytelling but it also strangely fully engages us as we wonder what will happen next. We care about the characters and gladly go with them on their journey as they struggle with their issues. We have fun along the way. Five Flights is a screwball show that is more that “for the birds.” (Sorry.)
At Red Tape Theatre, 621 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL