The Upstairs Department Reviews
"...Luke and Colleen, the Chicago siblings at the center of Chelsea Marcantel's COVID-era drama The Upstairs Department, seem at the outset to be close pals, if somewhat disconnected. Introduced traveling in a car together, the two couldn't be further apart."
"...The Upstairs Department is a work sponsored under the Heidi Thomas Writers' Initiative, which partners female playwrights with female directors to produce new works, and it has the good fortune to be helmed by the incredible Holly Twyford. Twyford's careful eye and deep sensitivity comes through every aspect of the production, and her vision seems to mesh perfectly with Marcantel's work."
Talkin Broadway- Recommended
"...While all three actors evoke the complexities of their sometimes contradictory roles, the heart of the play is Shiloh (Joy Jones), the medium who works with Luke and Colleen. Jones radiates serenity through her luminous eyes, her elegant stillness, and her flowing costumes (designed by Ivania Stack), in contrast to Luke and Colleen in their worn T-shirts and jeans. Shiloh does not try to convince anyone of anything; she simply draws out what she perceives beneath the surface and explains how she is different from supposed psychics doing cold readings before a crowd. (The "Upstairs Department" is her term for the spirits who have moved to the "other side.")"
Washington City Paper- Recommended
"...Signature Theatre commissioned The Upstairs Department in March of 2020, but the production was delayed for obvious reasons. Now serving as the theater's first world premiere since the pandemic started, it's not technically about COVID-19, though the virus, which hit as the playwright was beginning to craft the play, haunts the proceedings from start to finish. It's a poignant three-hander that explores one of the hardest aspects of the pandemic: It is harder to connect, both with those who are closest to us and those who have been taken from us."
DC Metro Theater Arts- Highly Recommended
"...Can you imagine a warmly funny and sweetly moving play full of spirit and uplift that was precipitated by COVID? I sure couldn't. (Too soon, right?) But playwright Chelsea Marcantel sure did, in her poignant new play The Upstairs Room now premiering at Signature Theatre."
MD Theatre Guide- Recommended
"...With just three actors and ninety minutes, “The Upstairs Department” conjures a satisfying family drama. The paranormal gives some levity to the grief at the show’s core, with Shiloh as much our guide as Luke’s to the world of Spiritualism and Lily Dale. Luke’s earnestness contrasts with Colleen’s skepticism, allowing us to weigh doubt and faith and decide which story we’d prefer. “The Upstairs Department” may not be perfectly polished, but its timely subject, endearing cast, women-led creative team, and immersive design offer plenty of promise."