By Art Thomas
In the spirit of “plays that you’ll see nowhere else,” Cleveland’s Convergence-Continuum Theater is presenting “Five Flights.” This is a thoughtful, sometimes-funny, sometimes-poetic play that should send every audience member home with a lot to consider.
In the spirit of an absurdist style, there is enough of reality in “Five Flights” to root the piece for the characters and audience. The set, for example.
A man who is described, but not seen, has constructed an aviary, for birds, that is as large as a house. It is a tribute to his deceased wife whose spirit he believes continues to live in the place, perhaps through the birds. At his death, his three children must decide what to do with the aviary. Zac Hudak is Ed. Both a participant and narrator of the story, he is an affable young man. His brother Bobby, who does not appear in the play, may or may not have ideas about the aviary – depending on who you talk to. Bobby’s wife Jane is present as a shrill organized scientific sort. Bobby and Ed’s sister, Adele proposes that the place become a church. This may be due to her feelings, perhaps romantic, for Oliva, a female preacher who hones her craft at this unlikely place of worship. Jane wants modern homes there, and Ed is unsure of what he wants.
“Five Flights” by Adam Bock has moments of good poetic language and dialogue. The characters explore what will set them free, much like the birds who inhabit the aviary. Religion is a part of it, but so too are relationships, whether by blood or by love.
Ed is attracted to a hockey player, played by Clint Elston. Tom has a veneer of calmness, but underneath is a conflicted lover. Tom’s teammate, Andre, is a Lithuanian no-nonsense guy. “Just kiss him” he advises Tom to act on his attraction to Ed. By the way, in “Five Flights” the audience will learn how a hockey game is like a ballet, and like a play, for that matter. It’s one of the more clever through themes of the piece.
I enjoyed Lauri Hammer as the inspired preacher of the Church of the Fifth Day. Her Olivia struggles to find the words to express the truths she has just discovered. As Jane, the performance by Elaine Feagler does not strongly reflect the love of structure that the character professes, but as an antagonist, she is second to none.
Jaclyn Cifranic as Adele is best in a beautifully written mid-show monologue explaining her beliefs and confusions.
Director Clyde Simon is at his best in using the small space of Tremont’s Liminis theater. The audience is segmented, and actually part of a congregation at some points. Watching three of the cast at a ballet performance is a hoot of choreography as they remain rooted in their seats. The set has water effects that are used to great advantage in this production and the scenography makes the aviary real to the audience.
“Five Flights” is an adult play. Audience will leave reflecting on the piece, and maybe even on their own beliefs and what it is that will “set us free.” The play runs weekends through Saturday. For information go to http://www.convergence-continuum.org or call 216-687-0074.