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Reflection on Spark at Cherry Lane Theatre, New York


Cherry Lane Theatre, New York City

November 11, 2012 

Directed by Scott Schwartz 

Experiencing “Spark,” a new play by Caridad Svich

            by Gloria Mann 

“Spark,” a new play by Obie Award-winning playwright Caridad Svich, describes in painful, humorous, sometimes transcendent detail a closely-woven tapestry of difficult situations. With stark lenses on rural poverty, family, the loss of parents, the hopelessness and despair of a traumatized female veteran returning home to joblessness, alcoholism and the loss of meaning, Spark shows in contemporary language what happens when people are faced with complex, unanswerable situations.

With a rich language that often breaks into original and heartfelt song, the characters in “Spark” are celebrants in a ritual that acknowledges their human predicament and its emotive release. The major thread of coming home for veterans from “the Sandbox” is a uniquely modern experience that previous myths of soldiering can no longer cloak or comfort, and the play addresses this honestly and without pat solutions. Above all, “Spark” is a story of the pains, losses and lifetime bonds of sisterhood and its triumph.

The recent Veterans’ Day reading of this remarkable play produced at New York’s venerable Cherry Lane Theater, directed by Scott Schwartz with a remarkable cast including Louis Cancelmi, Peter Jay Fernandez, Marin Ireland and Jocelyn Kuritsky, upheld the angst and art of these intertwined human issues to the light for all to see.   

In my reading of “Evelyn” (the eldest sister), I appreciated how the character matched the play’s “coming home” story with a parallel “left behind” theme. Evelyn’s desperate struggle to maintain a sense of home and family against the grinding poverty of her situation shows that even flawed courage and integrity have value, and ultimately provide something for her veteran sister to come home to despite all odds.

Gloria Mann was an actor/producer (TECL and Mannatee Films) of the Spark reading at the Cherry Lane Theater, New York, November 11, 2012