There’s a fringe festival aura that seems perfectly suited to The Spark, a new play written and directed by Kelsey Leigh Ervi. Imaginatively using bedsheets, flashlights, wine bottles, coat hangers, and other found objects, the cast of five creates far-flung worlds and takes its audience on fantastical adventures with only the power of suggestion.
Suggestion, and darn good acting. Kaitlin Moon-Jones is Emma, a precocious little girl who finds solace in the wild tales she and her father (Kyle Igneczi) spin. Whether she’s trying to escape the bullies at her new school or pleading for a bedtime story, Emma is enchanted by the far-flung places she can travel to in her mind. She creates some pretty fun characters along the way, including a British firefly named Jasper (the rubber-limbed ensemble of Henry Greenberg, John Ruegsegger, and Seth Womack share this role along with a host of other expressive characters.)
With charming puppetry overseen by Igneczi and clever staging by Ervi (the use of music and dance is especially impactful), the limitless world of Emma’s imagination unfolds before our eyes. It’s only when Emma suddenly grows up and distances herself from her father, now terminally ill, that the play veers from delightful to sappy. Her hospital reunion with him feels manipulative, but thankfully the show’s final moment returns to the simple magic that hitherto had us enthralled.