Have you ever been shown your worst side? How about laughing at a joke and then finding out that it was about you?
By turning the focus of racism away from the those it affects (mostly) and jamming it back at the audience (mostly white) “Spinning Into Butter” offers a new look at an old theme: dealing with racism.
Why it unsettles is probably only known to the writer, although the post performance discussions every Thursday offer the audience a chance to vent or stop the reeling, whatever, go see the show.
This could easily be written as follows:
Go see it. It'll change your life. You'll leave satisfied if not introspective.
But hopefully you'll leave wondering just where Laure MacConnell came from (hint: UAA). Or why Dick Reichman seems to be able to pull off any role (he plays uptight and front-running Dean Strauss) and maybe even wondering how you could even laugh, which you'll do a lot, at a subject so guarded and explosive as racism.
The stage at Cyrano's is tiny, most times used too much in productions, but Jim Orman's set design of Sarah Daniels' (MacConnell) office seems intimate, and the mood lighting works to the effect that time change and setting are equally justified and quick changing.
Almost stealing the show from the actual play, and MacConnell, is UAA student Christoph Catalone. As Patrick Chibas, Catalone is equal parts strong and vulnerable. He shows a naÔve side in the first act that turns to embitterment and strength in the second act. Catalone plays a “New-u-rican” who offers a sub-plot that breaks up the long scenes involving the crux of the play, a racist incident directed at a black student on campus.
So much to say about a play that debuted at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Ill. only two years ago.
So why don't I just say what was mentioned earlier then and save more plaudits and soliloquy?
Go see it. It'll change your life, well until the arctic cold hits you smack dab in the face after leaving the theatre. You'll leave satisfied if not introspective.
At nearly two hours and fifteen minutes, “Spinning” is a play with harsh language and attacks on character and bureaucratic dogma not suitable for UAA administrators or children under the age of 14. Two acts, one break and a noteworthy performance from one of Anchorage's most risk-averse troupes.