Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Through the fantasy adventures of Superjohn, and the real-life drama of John and Star, his sister, we witness how the power of imagination helps in the overcoming of difficult life situations. A powerful piece of theatre, but one where the integral message may go over the heads of children unless additional teaching is provided.
Superjohn loves to fly through outer space and fight his many nemeses using his magnificent super powers … but then you learn that Superjohn is really John, a child in hospital, battling leukemia. A potentially difficult subject, but this piece of theatre takes the audience on a journey that is part-imagination, part-real-life, with a touch of laughter, some audience participation and music thrown in.
It is obvious that a lot of thought and research has gone into the creation of this piece of theatre, and for anyone with some knowledge about leukemia (or any cancer for that matter), treatments and hospital procedure, it is clear what is happening throughout, both in the real-life story, and in the parallel fantasy adventures that occur. Of particular note is the sequence about finding a suitable donor match, brilliantly handled as a quiz show, and including audience participation.
As an adult and parent I loved this piece of theatre, but watched as my 9 and 11 year children started to fidget at the 50 minute mark with 25 minutes still remaining; knowing also that I would have to explain a lot to them about the subject matter following the performance. I did. It is unfortunate that there is absolutely no indication in the program blurb to indicate the subject this piece tackles. It came as quite a surprise to me, and several other audience members who attended the same performance. When used as a piece of educational theatre in the future, a teacher’s pack with follow-up activities will be an appreciated item.
The purpose, however, is to give the audience something to think about, to educate, to explore feelings, how individuals deal with difficult situations, and overcome adversity. This piece certainly does all that. It is performed by an outstanding cast of 4 actors (2 take on multiple characters) with sensitivity and precision. This is definitely worth seeing … just be prepared to do some teaching afterward.