The Super Hero and his Charming Wife Review - A Super Hero's Scrambled Science

Described as “modern mythology...inspired by archetype and dreams,” THE SUPER HERO AND HIS CHARMING WIFE explores some absurd and yet deeply philosophical concepts in the style of a graphic novel. Blending dance, music, movement, and raw feelings, The Not Man Apart-Physical Theatre Ensemble creates a world which is both unreal and surprisingly very real and does so in an original and intriguing manner. Though the emphasis is clearly on the physical, verbal gems sometimes sneak into the mix: “Heisenberg’s Theory of Uncertainty” opines that “heartbreak is the loss of belief.”

 

Jones Welsh and Alina Bolshakova - Photo by DarylJim Photography

The Super Hero (Jones Welsh) is happily married to Julie (Joanna Bateman) and content in his life of saving the world. Until Julie begins to morph into other women (Laura Covelli, Courtney Munch) - apparently her super power. A man of logic and organization, Hero is unable to deal with these irrational and threatening changes. He longs for things to go back to where they were. Hero’s journey is framed in pop culture and explained through modern action, music, and absurd humor. Stereotypical figures haunt his landscape, each dressed in a costume that somehow highlights each character’s internal message. Here and there, clever quips keep humor in the picture: a Caucasian chef who shouts back at his Japanese fellow-chefs in Japanese - which he doesn’t speak. And no one seems to notice that what he says doesn’t make sense. Occasionally, extraordinarily creative happenings surface: the entire stage becomes an ocean as intermittent drops of rain gradually expand into a tempest - all engineered under a huge tarpaulin by very energetic dancers. Brilliant moments like this unexpectedly pop up just when things may be getting a little stale. And they are worth the visit to this show.

 

Jessica Carlsen and Courtney Munch - Photo by DarylJim Photography

THE SUPER HERO AND HIS CHARMING WIFE is clearly very original and highly creative. However, the graphic novel/absurdist flare may not be for everyone. At times, the connections between scenes are vague and confusing and might prove daunting to an individual who craves predictability and organization (much like our Hero). The ensemble has been called a “futuristic Theatre Company” and termed “exhilarating...propulsive... innovative...startlingly refreshing.” If these are elements you crave in theater, then this is the production for you.

 

Jessica Carlsen and Jones Welsh - Photo by DarylJim Photography

The production team has done an interesting if minimalist job of making a spare stage support the tale and change as the story develops. A video backdrop is effective in setting the scene and - in one case - simulating a magical dream as the principals fall into a maelstrom of ever-changing pinwheels. Main character, co-artistic director, and producer, Jones Welsh proves himself to be a truly multi-talented Hero. Aaron Hendry, the associate artistic director of the ensemble and the playwright and director of the current production, specializes in physical and athletic interpretations, as THE SUPER HERO AND HIS CHARMING WIFE amply demonstrates.

 

THE SUPER HERO AND HIS CHARMING WIFE runs through May 15, 2016, with performances at 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3:30 p.m. on select Sundays. The Highway Performance Space is located at the 18th Street Art Center, 1651 18th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404. Tickets are $30 (adults) and $20 (students and seniors). For reservations, call 310-315-1459 or go online at http://highwaysperformance.org or http://www.notmanapart.com. 

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