Written and directed by Leigh Fondakowskispill logo

based on interviews by Leigh Fondakowski & Reeva Wortal

Produced by TimeLine Theatre

At Stage 773, Chicago

Riveting docudrama about the explosion of the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana

Spill, now in a manic, yet powerful, staging by TimeLine Theatre at Stage 773, is a docudrama deftly performed by nine actors who both put a face on the eleven who died when the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank in 2010 off Louisiana and attempt to explain what and why things happened.  Researched, written, and directed by Leigh Fondalowski (with interview help from Reeva Wortal), Spill is a balanced oral history of the events of April 20, 2010; the effects on the oil people of BP and the relatives of the rig workers as well as the larger environmental consequences from millions of oil spilling from the blown well.


Spill amazingly dramatizes, with vivid videos by Mike Tutaj, the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and the cost-cutting pressure BP forced upon the engineers on the rig. We learn that despite hundreds of deepwater rigs in operation, there never was a major explosion until 2010. Spill dramatizes the collision course between our thirst for oil, modern  technology, and the wrath of nature, zeroing in on these social, economic, and political contradictions. Not only is Spill a thoughtful documentary, but it is a powerful dramatic theatrical event. Fondalowski is not only a terrific researcher, but she is also an experienced theatre director. Both of these came into fine use in this riveting production.


With a terrific cast, featuring Caren Blackmore, Tim Decker, Kelli Simpkins, Craig Spidle, Justin James Farley, David Prete, Chris Rickett, Christopher Sheard and Justine C. Turner, Spill offers  powerful and personal oral histories, philosophical opinions, and truths as to both the short-tern and the long consequences of our thirst for oil. I learned much from this energetic production, particularly about how complex and dangerous deepwater oil drilling can be. Devoid of propaganda, Spill informs, dramatizes, and starts dialog that needs to be discussed so that we can create policies that balance the human risk and the environmental risk with our need for oil and for the economic impact that drilling for oil has on the nation and the local economy.

Spill does all of the above with truthful discourse as well as thrilling dramatization of the catastrophic events. This is not a “talky” documentary, but a powerful human story in the words of those involved. As a theatrical piece, Spill is  marvelous drama that captures many sides and view points about the explosion of April, 2010. Let the dialog begin. Kudos to TimeLine theatre for mounting Spill – it is an important show expertly presented.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: October 30, 2015

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Spill page at

At Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, IL, call 773-327-5252,, tickets $38m $46, $51, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2pm, running time is 2 hours, 35 minutes with intermission, through December 19, 2015