Playwright Beau Willimon is the breakout young talent behind the provocative drama Farragut North, which is currently being developed into a Warner Brothers film. Now, he brings his latest work, Spirit Control, to MTC.
Adam Wyatt has the perfect family and a perfect record as an air traffic controller. But when the pilot of a small plane suffers a heart attack, Adam must talk a terrified passenger through an emergency landing. What happens next will link him inextricably to a woman he’s never met, and set the life he once knew irrevocably adrift. Spirit Control is a chilling and mesmerizing look at how we navigate a crisis, and the demons that haunt us long after.
Spirit Control is at the Manhattan Theater Club, and has a cast headed by Jeremy Sisto, who you’ll probably recognize from Six Feet Under and Law and Order. He and Brian Hutchison play air traffic controllers in a small private airport in St. Louis who try and talk a woman down whose boyfriend or husband has had a heart attack and can’t land the plane. And then what happens in the next — in the intervening 25 years. The problem is the beginning is electric, and unbelievable, and spine-chilling, and the play goes downhill from there. So it just — I mean, to a certain extent, you can’t really maintain the same level of excitement. But the drop-off is kind of dramatic. And what happens after that is kind of a soap opera, and you don’t care as much about it. You care enormously about the first 15 minutes. And I’m not trying to be really rude in saying that they should have kept it up, because I’m not sure how you would keep it up. But having said that, the opening I would give five stars to and the rest of it, maybe two and a half or three, because the rest is sort of just soap opera. So I’ll probably give it three and a half stars.