Adelaide Fringe 2011
Miller and Moore Presents… deftly combines humour, pathos and satire in this entertaining twist on the superhero genre. It is an engaging look at the lives and relationships of ‘gifted’ individuals and those that love them, while they deal with the challenges of media, consumerism and what it means to be a hero.
This play introduces Alphaman (Hjalmar Svenna), his father Admiral Courage (Ben Crawford), his arch-nemisis and previous partner V, aka Venus Flytrap (Sara Lange), and Venus’s husband James (Tom Cornwall), also Alphaman’s best friend. Their interactions and conflicts form this story about the challenges of heroism, the part the media plays in the lives of society’s role-models, and the dangers of a consumerism culture. They all have their personal battles. James feels torn between his wife and best friend, and is clearly an everyday, human hero that secretly longs for recognition. Whilst V is figuring out the limitations and heartbreaks that comes of being ‘Super’, Alphaman is just trying to discover who he is as a man. Admiral Courage tries desperately to overcome his feelings of uselessness and his worry for his superhero son. Despite these more serious personal themes, the humour is the main draw. It is played, at times, with a tongue firmly in cheek, but the serious moments give it surprising emotional resonance.
The performances generally struck the right note, combining humour, drama and Lycra into a diverting hour and a half of theatre. The chemistry between the leads, particularly the best friends of Alphaman and James, was convincing. They had some very minor flaws, but this young cast have a lot of talent and will certainly go far. The script was witty and original, melding throw-away jokes and more significant ones with moments of angst. The emotive monologues were perfectly placed, and really managed to convey the heart of the characters without clashing with the comedy or becoming mawkish. The first dramatic monologue where V gives some insight into her past, was slightly jarring for a brief moment, but by the end had helped to inform her character’s motivations. By the time Alphaman delivered the final emotive monologue, the audience had a much clearer idea of all the character’s inner struggles. This moment deftly transformed the audiences perception of his character from a slightly cheesy action man into a real human being with his own inner turmoil.
The play was very well staged and they cleverly used their unusual space, creating two separate sets within one, and used their only entrances and exits (the stairs) to comedic advantage. The mix of different media used – both live action and previously filmed and then projected material – allowed for some great moments of comedy, as well as informing later elements of the plot. It also allowed them to create a slightly more complex, but easily followed, time structure, with a large flashback in the middle portion of the play.
The entire audience thoroughly enjoyed the performance, laughing at the jokes, and keeping respectful silence during the emotional monologues. It was certainly fun, not by any means ground breaking, but certainly a very worthwhile evening at the theatre. These talented players managed to combine a number of elements effectively, but the play was first and foremost a story about people – real people – and their relationships with each other.