I am a Superhero
Goldsmith Building, 10 NW 5th, 233-4420, Thurs-Sun 8 pm, through Dec 18, $10-15
A sign on the door of the Goldsmith Building instructs passersby to knock three times for entrance to Fever Theater's I am a Superhero. Once inside, the makeshift performance space is organized to feel as homey as a living room. Last spring's Fever event, Like a Five-Wheeled Bicycle, was performed in a similarly intimate, unusual space (the seventh floor of the B&O warehouse)—such venues make the audience feel as though they've stumbled upon something strange and rare, creating a conspiratorial air of excitement before the show even starts. The precocious folks at Fever employ a number of similar devices to capture the goodwill of their audience—from a comic book-style program to seamlessly integrated multimedia—but all the thoughtful flourishes in the world can't distract from the unwieldy tangle of non sequitors and nonsense that is Superhero's script.
Superhero centers on the relationship between brothers Jacob (Rollin Carlson) and Matthew (Mark Modern). Matthew has just sold the story of their lives for 50 dollars, incensing Jacob, who feels the story wasn't his to sell. For the next hour and a half, the brothers argue the significance of this sale, exploring what is meant by their "story," proposing alternate stories, and even re-enacting games from their childhood. Both performers are funny and charismatic (particularly Carlson as the neurotic and twitchy Jacob), and slideshows, video, and puppetry are used to exquisite effect. But ultimately, even two punked-out puppets can't alleviate the boredom of the disjointed monologues and tedious back-and-forths that characterize the piece. The Beckett-esque repetition of the "sold story" trope falls flat, Jacob's complaint seeming more petulant than universal, and in general, the work's most compelling moments pertain more directly to growing up and to the angst of 20-something than to the nebulous metaphysics of the story.
With some serious editing, this show could be brilliant; as it stands, not even drawing my own "take home" superhero picture in the lobby could compensate for almost two hours spent sifting through so much heavy-handed and self-indulgent dialogue.