Ensemble Studo Theatre
Photo by Gerry Goodstein

There is currently a show on Broadway that celebrates the unity of humanity in the face of serious tragedy. It expresses human kindness and openness in ways that most of us thought were not possible. Leigh Fondakowski’s new play, Spill, is not that show. The former is Come From Away, a musical about a town in New Foundland that bands together on 9/11 when 38 plays had to make an emergency landing at their local airport in Gander.

Spill, produced by Ensemble Studio Theatre, is a stark contrast to this heart-warming tale and reinforces a painful reality; the altar of the almighty dollar is where corporations go to pray while they sacrifice human lives like used kleenex.

Fondakowski, who wrote and directed the play, has once again served a jolting Molotov cocktail of theater, the effects of which will shake you to the core long after the final curtain. Fondakowsi previously served as head writer of The Laramie Project, a piece which chronicled a Wyoming town’s response to the homicide of young, gay student Matthew Shepard.

Photo by Gerry Goodstein.
Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

Deepwater Horizon and the aftermath of the 2010 Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the focus of her latest work. For nearly three months, 50,000 barrels of fuel poured into the ocean, killing the far-ranging ecosystems along the shoreline and adversely affecting marine life. Worst of all, it claimed eleven human lives, injured seven, and sent the remaining individuals running for salvation on life boats-All in the name of greed.

Like The Laramie Project, Fondakowski labored for hours, interviewing BP employees, oil experts, and family members whose loved ones perished in the disaster. In documentary style, the phenomenal cast recreates bits of the interviews and weaves an indelible tale of denial, deceit, and disgrace.

Spill is not easy to watch, but it so well-crafted that it is impossible to not be engrossed. Fondakowski avoids the easy technique of persuasion and instead, presents hard facts.  If you don’t already feel enough outrage by current headlines, Spill will ensure that you’re mightily angered after 2.5 hours. Simultaneously, you’ll find this cast, the subject matter, and the way it is masterfully guided well worth your time and money.

Spill plays through April 2nd at Ensemble Studio Theatre, 545 West 52nd between 10th and 11th street. NYC. For tickets and information, click here .