NO good DEED: Theater Review

Anthony Masters
Valorous attempt to combine graphic art superhero origin story into theatrical expression fails to achieve meaningful dimensions.

Director Damaso Rodriguez's stage production follows ordinary men who are transformed into superheroes.

The Furious Theatre Company 10th Anniversary production comes at a critical juncture the troupe’s history. After six consistently impressive years of inspired mountings of strong original plays at the Carrie Hamilton space upstairs at the Pasadena Playhouse, the now-dispossessed company has endured eighteen months without a show, investing considerale resources into this more-elaborate and ambitious production with one of their resident playwrights, Matt Pelfrey, who penned the powerful An Impending Rupture of the Belly.

The new show limns the familiar outlines of a comic book superhero, a put-upon adolescent with a graphic talent and the best of motives, whose fantasies of righting wrongs and asserting his nascent manhood lead him inexorably to deleterious results. Pelfrey appropriates the story of the hapless Richard Jewell, first hero and then victim of the media in the Atlanta Olympics bombing, as a model for how our culture exaggerates celebrity and relentlessly tears it down. Teen Josh Jaxon becomes the self-mutilated Hellbound Hero and ends up aligned with a greviously-wronged heroic fireman and security guard to become an anti-hero Justice League determined to undo their good deeds that have become so unfairly punishing.

Reliable house director Damaso Rodriguez has a fertile theatrical imagination assisted mightily by his crack design team on lights, sound and costumes, stongly executive fight choreography and inventive use of video screens. The cast is game and capable. But the play lacks persuasively useful ideas, and the flouting of cliché rarely transcends what it evokes. These are slender variations of excessively familiar tropes, and the insights into celebrity culture in media and society lack originality or novelty. This “live-on-stage graphic novel adventure” is only intermittently lively and virtually never novel nor adventurous, marking perhaps the first signal disappointment in the Furious Theatre’s hitherto unbroken record of artistic success.

Venue: [INSIDE] the Ford at the Ford Theatre (though February 26)
Cast: Nick Cernoch, Shawn Lee, Troy Metcalf, Katie Marie Davies, Robert Pescovitz, Johanna McKay, Dana Kelly Jr., Danny Lacy, Stefanie Demetriades, Adam Critchlow, David C. Hernandez, Brian Danner
Director: Damaso Rodriguez   
Scenic Designer: John Iacovelli
Lighting Designer: Don Weingarten
Sound Designer and Original Composition: Doug Newell
Costume Designer: Christy Hauptman
Video Projection Design: Jason H. Thompson
Fight Choreography: Brian Danner
Original Graphic Illustration: Ben Matsuya
Produced by Furious Theatre Company