Comedy, Theater / Performance

Superheroes who are Super! (Plays and Players Theater, 13Apr12)

What they say it is: Superheroes who are Super(!) joins the Avengers in preparing Philadelphia for tax deadlines in a special IRS-themed adventure.  SwaS brings you the story that started it all, Avengers #1, and just in time, “The Big Payoff”, a lesson from our government’s best heroes on being a good citizen with your TAXES!

CLAY SAYS....Once again, Funsavers to the rescue.  I can’t say I was expecting much, given the low price ($6 with discount) and the advertised description of a production featuring ultra-low-budget ‘special effects’ and comic book reenactments read straight from the page.  Color me ‘awesomely surprised’; though the ethos and atmosphere of the overall show was somewhere between high school goofiness and Troma-team intentioned, this show really worked out for the best.  They weren’t kidding about the low-budget effects–some superheroes were only recognizable thanks tolabels taped to the shirts of the respective characters (i.e. a sheet of paper announcing ‘Wolverine’ or ‘Whirlwind’), and when attempts at costuming did occur, they were typically of the “1.99 Happy Meal Props” variety.  Yet in spite (or perhaps because) of this ruthlessly lowbrow approach, the show incorporated a sense of stupid fun, out-for-laughs ridiculousness that was well worth my time.

The actors themselves were the shining lights of this show; with deliveries ranging from apathetic to embarrassed to explosively overdone, the riskiness of staging a comic book meta-comedy ended up paying large laugh dividends.  It pleases me to say that there was not a single weak link in the cast of 6 performers (a rarity in the loosey-goosey Philly fringe scene), with solidly awesome performances coming in from every corner of the stage.  In my humble opinion (and, judging by the laughter of the 30-odd audience members, for others as well), the actors standing as Iron Man, Noki, and Hulk stole the show in almost every scene.  Iron Man/Tony Stark simply dominated his role as a alternatively autistic/overconfident team leader (this guy was literally radiating talent beyond the call of an indie-budget show), and the fellow playing Hulk unwittingly evoked the classic comedic genius of an under-recognized (yet well-loved) performing legend, Eric “Monkey” Toombs.  Meanwhile, the “supporting” cast served as truly excellent straight men (and women), including an especially neat coinicidence of Giant Girl being played by the same actress who was cast female detective in Curio Theater’s Death of an Anarchist.  All around, this cast was a work of perfect chemistry and design, and I hope the lineup stays stable for future issues.

I can't locate any photos from the show we saw, but this is one from another previous SwaS performance. Pretty sure they're recycling that Spiderman outfit.

Even without fancy props, any sort of proper set, or anything more than some classic “where there’s a will there’s a way” theater DIY, the cast of SwaS blew the comedic doors off the upstairs theater at Plays and Players.  Though the plots of tax-return filing and a semi-accurate reinterpretation of Avengers#1 might have flummoxed some viewers, Tara and I were practically rolling in our seats, ever so glad we spent the time and effort to catch this cool little show.  If SwaS comes to your town (scheduled for Brooklyn in late June) give em a chance, they’re truly funny people.

I couldn’t agree more with Clay’s review. Truly amazing writing and acting made this unusual ‘play’ quite funny and entertaining. No fancy props, lighting or costumes – it takes true talent to make it look so easy, and so funny. The players openly held script sheets in their hands, but in spite of this, were either amazing improv actors or were simply very, very well-rehearsed. The actor playing Thor (also playing Iron Man) completely stole the show, first by playing an extremely shy guy who dry heaves over the idea of having to even read his lines to an audience, yet eventually mutating into a bare-chested extrovert (a chance made possible by removing his glasses and making the audience disappear). The gentleman who played Loki is also worthy of mention, if only due to the fact he is brave enough to don gold spandex pants while head-banging his wispy hair and performing feats of mind manipulation that would make any glam rocker jealous. Thank you to SwaS for such a gut busting evening, at such a bargin price!

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