Review: ‘Superheroes’ by Wily West Productions (***)

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: ***)

This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

(“Superheros” continues at the Exit Theatre August 2, 7, 14 and 16, 2014). 

This summer, Wily West Productions, specialists in new work by local playwrights,  have achieved an impressive trifecta of excellence, first with “Sheherazade 14“, then “Everybody Here Says Hello“, and finally “Superheroes”.

“Superheroes” features the short work of eight playwrights on the titular theme. In workshop, they created a walloping 114 plays from which they made this final, interwoven selection. The results range from the level of very good sketch comedy to a piece so over-the-top funny (“Marvin’s Last Wish” by Bridgette Dutta Portman) that it produced what is certainly the longest sustained audience laugh I can remember. It just kept coming in waves, as the shocked, but no doubt delighted, actors stood frozen in tableau (well, their mouths DID twitch just a tiny bit).

Shelley Lynn Johnson as Kate in "Kate's Superpower" by Chelsey Little. Photo credit: Jim Norrena.
Shelley Lynn Johnson as Kate in “Kate’s Superpower” by Patricia Milton. Photo credit: Jim Norrena.

The plays are all clever, occasionally touching, and divergent enough to sustain interest. The ensemble is first rate and is more-than-ably supported by musician Kat Down who has composed several clever original songs and incidental music which she performs with panache. The acting ensemble includes Jenna May Cass, Barrett Courtney,  Brian Flegel, Shelley Lynn Johnson, Karen Offereins and Dan Wilson.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 4.44.24 PMSome highlights include Dan Wilson mugging his way to comedic success as “Angry Fairy Boy”, Barrett Courtney (a recent high school grad making a sterling theatrical debut) as a flustered intern greeting the guests at a superhero convention and Shelly Lynn-Johnson as Kate, a put-upon wife who discovers her superpower. In Morgan Ludlow’s touching “Superman and Wonder Woman Have A Drink”, the two aging superheroes meet late one night at the superhero convention and speak gently of lost love and hope for the future.

If you like to laugh, you can’t go wrong with this one.

For further information, click here.

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“Superheroes”, world premier of short plays by Susan Jackson, Morgan Ludlow, Rod McFadden, Patricia Milton, Laylah Muran de Asserto, Bridgette Dutta Portman, Jennifer Lynne Roberts, and Karl Schackne. Directors: Alica Coombes and Chelsea Little. Original music by by Kat Downs

Performing Ensemble: Jenna May Cass, Barrett Courtney, Brian Flegel, Shelley Lynn Johnson, Karen Offereins, Dan Wilson, and Kat Downs.

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