Wednesday January 18th 2017

“Spill” review by Carol Moore

SPL_WebpageHeader_550pxHighly Recommended ****  TimeLine Theatre Company’s production of “Spill” reminded me a bit of “Assassination Theatre”, not, of course the subject matter, rather the style.  “Spill” is a docu-drama, done as a hearing investigating the 2010 BP oil spill.  From start to finish, “Spill” is compelling, complicated, intriguing and very, very interesting.  I give it 4 Spotlights.

When Deepwater Horizon, the BP oil rig, exploded and sank off the coast of Louisiana, eleven people were killed and millions of barrels of oil were released into the Gulf.  Sometimes the feel was that of a Congressional hearing or a jury trial, with complicated evidence presented through testimony.  At other times, the memories were so personal if could have been an intimate conversation.  You are more likely to see this kind of detailed evidence in a book, not a play!

I last saw Kelli Simpson in About Face Theatre’s insightful play, “The Kid Thing”, in 2012, I think.  I haven’t seen her in performance since, although I wondered where she was working.  Now I find out she’s been working on “Spill” for the past four years as dramaturg and performer.  Kudos to her!Spill_1A586-980x600-400x245

As the Narrator, Simpkins starts at the beginning, laying out a case which strongly indicts BP, not only with the company’s responsibility for the disaster, but also with their culpability in the aftermath.  For each step along the way, she provides testimony – from the survivors, from relatives of the victims, from law enforcement, from scientists/engineers, and from BP’s own words – to back up that indictment.

The members of the ensemble cast – Caron Blackmore, Tim Decker, Kelli Simpkins, Craig Spidle, Justin James Farley, David Prete, Chris Rickett, Christopher Sheard and Justine C. Turner – all play multiple parts.  As a viewer, it always amazes me when I see an actor morph form one character into another, and this cast – and especially Simpson – were very good at it. spill3

By the way, the set seems simple at first glance, a round table and a couple of folding chairs in front of couple of derricks and a platform, but it assumes a more sinister appearance.  I was definitely in awe when the cast simulated an exploding oil rig.

TimeLine Theatre Company’s production of “Spill” runs through December 19th at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago.  Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Fridays at 8:00; Saturdays at 4:00 and 8:00; and Sundays at 2:00.  Running time is 2 hours, 30 minutes with an intermission.  Tickets range from $38-$51.  Street parking is hard to find along Belmont, but valet parking is available.  FYI (773) 327-5252 or

To see what others are saying, visit, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Spill”

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