BWW Reviews: Disjointed But Clever TEAM OF HEROES: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS at Annex Theatre
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by Jay Irwin
The Heroes are back! Annex Theatre's favorite band of supers have returned for a prequel to their hit "Alecto: Issue #1" with the uproarious "Team of Heroes: Behind Closed Doors". And while the hilarity and amazingly clever staging is back with some new surprises and some actual poignant moments, at times the show seems in desperate need of some editing as it felt a bit disjointed and over complicated.
For those that missed the original show, not to worry, this is a prequel and there's all of one joke you may not get. In this issue, we learn more of the origins of the Team of Heroes as we know them and get some insight on who came before them. How did The Cap'n and Madame Mayhem (Jason Sharp and Tracy Leigh) meet and get their powers? Why is there so much tension between Madame and Miss Dixie (Danielle Daggerty)? Can Shock Wave (Nik Doner) overcome his fear of … well … his fears? All of this and more is delved into as the ToH jumps into action to save the day from the evil Chaos Theory (Rachel Jackson) and her unconventional henchman Mr. Randy.
But it's the "more" where they ran into some issues. Too many locations which required too many lengthy scene changes and too much exposition which caused the flow of the show, on the whole, to feel rocky. Don't get me wrong, the amazing cast is all there with some new faces, the gags are still hysterical and it's still one hell of a fun time. There were just times that I wish playwright Alexander Harris and director Jaime Roberts had sacrificed some production value for a quicker scene change and in a few cases entire scenes for a little more brevity of explanation.
But what the show may lack in structure it more than makes up for in fun with this stellar ensemble. Sharp, Leigh and Doner are all back along with newcomer Daggerty and all manage the outrageousness of their super hero personas with the real life foibles of people in a difficult position. I was especially impressed by Doner who manages to turn on a dime from genius comedic timing to thoughtful introspection. Jackson kills (literally) with her schizophrenic villain complete with portable sidekick. Ashley Bagwell and Jana Hutchison fill in some of the hero back-story beautifully as Ace Johnson and Black Swallow and Bagwell turns in some gorgeously haunting quiet moments of pain. Angela DiMarco is incredible as the foul mouthed, balls to the wall, take no prisoners corporate liaison for the ToH, Melody Knox. And Ryan Higgins and Sam Hagen practically steal the show with their bumbling baddies Mikhael and Vladimir, the Black and White Russians and Hagen's transformation into the sinister simian, "8", is certainly something to see.
So, with a few issues, we still have a super cast and story and a definite good time. If you're a fan of the ToH from before, you do not want to miss this one. And if you're new to the world of medically enhanced, (sometimes not so) super heroes you're still bound for a fantastic evening. Just watch out for that puppet. He's freaky!
Photo credit: Jonas Seaman