Over parents weekend I went to see The Spitfire Grill with my mom. I had high hopes for it, especially because my mom had watched the movie version and loved it. I was extremely let down. Not only did I feel that the acting fell short, I really didn’t like the play itself. I felt that it glossed over huge issues without a thought, despite trying to be very thoughtful towards big issues. I have to say that this really turned me off. I also felt like the direction could have been stronger. The staging was lacking, and non of the actors seemed to commit to any of their actions. Overall, I was just extremely disappointed with the show.
I will start off with the things I did like, which unfortunately isn’t much. I thought that the set was beautifully done. The set designer did a great job at creating the diner, while accommodating the need for the outside, as well as an upstairs bedroom. I thought that the set was interesting and it definitely helped to keep my waning interest. The color scheme used for the set was also a good choice, it felt like a diner. It is unfortunate, however that I had the time to notice the color scheme of the set. I think if I had been more invested in the show I wouldn’t have had time to look at the set quite as in depth as I did.
It is always the mark of a bad play, when the first thing you think when you get up is “wow the set was great! “. The singing is the only other thing I can give any praise to. It was totally passable, and even enjoyable in some moments. Some of the actors were better then other, especially the woman who played the best friend. She had a lovely voice that to me carried the show. Everyone else was fine, with most being pretty good, and the main actress being only ok. She had some good songs, however, there were times that she was extremely pitchy. Honestly, that is all I can think of that I enjoyed at all, the est of the show I found pretty unbearable.
It was boring, poorly written, directed, and several times down right offensive. I thought that the direction was awful. It didn’t seem to me that any of the actors were given anything more than staging. I felt like they were told to walk from here to there, say your line and then your done. Non of them had any motivation for what they were doing. They all seemed extremely lost. Some of this comes down to bad acting, and some of it comes down to bad teach ing. Directors should be talking about motivation with the actors. There were times I got lost at what they were doing.
In one seen a man slaps his wife, orl assume that’s what he did as he wasn’t actually stage close enough to make the slap realistic. I didn’t understand his motivation, as the stakes weren’t high enough yet. They didn’t give themselves the time to build up the emotion that would lead to a man hitting someone he supposedly loves. Not that the love between them was apparent at all, they may as well have been strangers for the amount of chemistry they had. I feel that motivation is one of the most important things in acting and directing and it was amazing to me that these actors didn’t seem to receive any direction on their motivation.
If in the aforementioned seen, the actors had had some clear relationship early, if they had allowed the tension to build, if the fight had emotion, if the it had been obvious that he was intact supposed to be slapping her, I could have enjoyed the seen. As it was it was two strangers who were supposed to be married getting into a fight over the fact that she is never home. That’s not what the seen needed. It needed emotion, and I am disappointed that it didn’t get any. This play also glosses over some very serious issues very quickly. Throughout the whole play we are aware that the main character went to jail for some unknown reason.
She is portrayed as a likable woman, and we are supposed to wonder what she possibly could have done. to land herself in prison. It turns out that she killed her stepfather who had raped her repeatedly. From this rape, she ended up pregnant, however she lost the baby. All of this information comes out in a two minute period. They are told in order to comfort the owner of the diner, who is an old woman, who supposedly lost her son at war. Once this information comes out it is never mentioned again. It is forgotten and the show moves on to a feel good ending. I don’t think this right.
This felt very insensitive to me. Rape is never something that should be glossed over, especially not to rush to a feel good ending. It is a horrible thing that someone has to go through, and to go directly to an ending where we are to believe that the main character is going to live happily ever after was inappropriate. There was zero resolution to this story line, and I feel that that perpetuates the rape culture that sexual assault shouldn’t be talked about. The fact that she goes to prison for so long after killing someone in self defense also continues the blame the victim mentality.
I wish that they had handled the subject with more grace. While | understand that the director and the actors could not change the way the script is written I wish that Emerson would have chosen a better show to put on. I wish that I could say more kind things about The Spitfire Grill. I wish I liked more than just the set. I wish I had liked the show t, unfortunately it became over two hours of my life that I am never getting back. I would not recommend this show to anyone. Overall if I was going to give this show a grade, it would be a D.