In the thrilling and shrewdly idiotic Adventures of Spirit Force Five, cheerleaders save the universe | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

In the thrilling and shrewdly idiotic Adventures of Spirit Force Five, cheerleaders save the universe 

Not that there was ever any doubt.

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Michael Courier

I'll admit Factory Theater had me at "cheerleading squad must save the universe," about as shrewdly idiotic a theatrical setup as the company has concocted in its 26-year history. And the first few minutes of Jill Oliver's vulgar, trashy, childish romp reveal unexpected layers of additional idiocy. A trio of incessantly spirited high school cheerleaders (actually, one is preternaturally disagreeable by nature), joined by a fey, fawning, troopless Boy Scout, must follow their extraterrestrial coach into a dumpster in order to transport themselves to the realm of Lej, where diabolical Lady Mauron rules with an iron vagina (don't ask). Lej's mystical oracle, the Spirit Tree, has turned into a potty-mouthed perv, and the squad must jam a stick in its hole to stave off intergalactic ruin.

By design, it's an adolescent mess, akin to a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episode written by 13-year-old boys on crank. Director Spenser Davis keeps everything moving at a breakneck pace for 55 minutes, packing in great gobs of intentionally amateurish theatricality (Lady Mauron magically dissolves by walking offstage in plain view of everyone). While both playwright and director would be wise to carve out a bit of breathing room in the action, if only to help audiences navigate several currently incomprehensible plot turns, the evening's furious precision is a technical feat.

Best of all, the play teaches no lesson. Having helped save the universe by showing that "spirit" conquers all, the preternaturally disagreeable cheerleader moans, "I learned nothing."   v

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