Is it really possible to be a superhero for one day? This was a question I was hoping to answer on Sat., Sep.13 when I went to Dancer's Studio West to see Theatre of the Living Statue's production of BRAVA-Dreaming the Superhero.
As was to be expected, audience members took part in the festivities by dressing up in pseudo-superhero costumes and anticipating a performance that promised insight into the trials and tribulations of a bona fide superhero.
The opening piece, "Fluffy White Kittens"-written, choreographed and performed by Brad Payne and Sarisa Figuero-opened with an awkward cowboy "ye-hawing" spectators in hopes of granting superhero powers. As he moved back a bright light shone down on him and a woman dressed in high boots, tights and hot pants appeared. She attempted to turn the beginner into an intermediate Superhero by explaining all of the requirements one needs in order to morph into a superhuman entity.
After a quick and underdeveloped movement phase, the cowboy took the seductive charms of his mentor and was transformed into his super alter ego BushRambo. As the test of power prevailed, BushRambo stood for freedom but also let his camouflage slip by demonstrating stupidity and a mind keening towards world domination. After BushRambo and the trainer left the stage, a video played on the back screen that poked fun at people wanting to become superheroes. I was unsure how the video related to rest of the piece.
The next piece, "The Greatest Star in All of Vegas"-created and performed by Grant Tilly and Jenny Repond-was centered on a girl who was a daughter of a performer who, as a way to escape, created the superhero Luminator. The story of the Luminator began with a clichéd hometown girl who wanted to be a big star, took the money her grandma had given her and went to Vegas. Eventually, the glitzy city had let her down and consequently fell into the merciless underworld of Sin City. However, in her despair she found a light at the end of the tunnel in a redemptive identity called The Luminator.
As The Luminator, she was able to save people by capturing the flame that made them sad and bring them back to light/life. Although sexual undertones made an effort to keep the humour and story interesting, it was unsuccessful in keeping the narrative clear. The Luminator was as superficial as the tinsel and silver hot pants she wore, and the interruptions within the monologue were confusing.
After the intermission, Anita Miotti's piece "Dragonfly-Coming out and Going In"introduced us to Dragonfly, an extraterrestrial, bigheaded superhero who reads minds. She used the gift, placed center stage, to show the struggle she dealt with because of her superpower. The ability to read minds is something a lot of us would like to possess at one point or another but, as we learn from Dragonfly, it is almost a greater want to have a "normal"
"A Knowing Takes Hold," tells the story of an unknown superhero by the name of Fire Animal, whose goal was saving animals in a forest fire. Fire Animal stomped and displayed repetitious movements as illustrations of his reason for saving animals due to the personal loss of his cat Toby. This superhero believed in exhibiting his vulnerability on the outside by wearing an all paper suit for protection against forest fires. Though he may not have had the right equipment needed to save animals in a forest fire, the classic passion and need for vengeance was there. The recurring theme of saving animals helped the flow of the piece, but Fire Animal was kept at a minimal surface level.
Though this was a fun and entertaining performance to view, it did feel somewhat incomplete. At times it was confusing, there were too many ideas involved. But, as the title suggests, dreams can be baffling as well. I would probably go to another Theatre of the Living Statues production, but I think that charging $20 a ticket is a bit pricey.
Till next time…up, up and away!!!