A Visual Spectacle, Your Eyes Will Not Be Able To Resist The Majesty That Is “The Sparrow”
By: Armando Santana
Open your eyes. You are driving through a small town in Illinois, passing by the houses populated by their residents and the town school. Blink. You find yourself in the center of a basketball court where the Sparrows and the Hornets battle it out. Blink. You witness in a classroom the absolute carnage of bus accident as you watch the helpless victims swing from wall to wall. Blink. You are flying high above the sky with Emily Book, the unlikely hero of the original production, “The Sparrow”, which plays now until May 1st in the intimate Carnival Studio Theater.
A Beautifully written script by Chicago’s House Theater writers Jake Minton, Chris Mathews, and Nathan Allen, the story tells of Emily Book (Carolyn Defrin), the lone survivor to a bus accident that ended the lives of her entire second grade class. Now needing a state mandated diploma, Emily must return back to the town that holds so many memories. And as the town slowly tries to find where to place Emily, while also trying to heal from the memories that they themselves must face once more, Emily’s secret is revealed: She has otherworldly supernatural powers.
A story of acceptance and healing, I was truly struck down by how honest the actors all were in their roles. While watching this performance, the play did something spectacular: It suddenly turned from me watching a play about high school and its drama (with the added touch of super powers), to me just simply watching high school and its drama (with the added touch of super powers). Shawn Pfautsch’s performance of Mr. Christopher, the high-tapping ‘cool’ teacher with his own secrets, was truly mesmerizing, only because the actor himself truly transformed into this conflicted teacher, trying to make himself flawless but making his gravest mistakes nonetheless in these attempts. Carolyn Defrin as Emily Book became much more than an actress trying to be a socially awkward high school senior. Defrin truly became her character in every shape and form. And this sort of commitment, as it rang through with the entire cast, only made the entire show THAT more fascinating to experience.
What astounds me most about this production is that everything was done using only lights, sounds, video, movement, and picture frames. The only things that the actors could truly utilize, and the absolute preciseness of it all was just breathtaking, the manifestation of Emily’s powers as lights surround the stage and audience members. The video projections of the dark memories of Emily Book. The always-sustaining sound of a train passing in the distant, even in the most intimate of conversation. With visual beauty, wonderful honesty, and a story that will test time itself, “The Sparrow” holds itself to be an experience that no one wants to miss.
“The Sparrow” is now playing at the Carnival Studio Theater, within the Sanford and Dolores Ballet Opera House of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $35 to $50, as well as $25 dollar Student Rush Tickets. For more information, contact the box office at 305.949.6722