SUPERFUNADVENTURETIMES is a joyous, life-affirming ride, a dramatization of pop culture references with musical breaks, complete with haphazard costumes and actors who occasionally break into smiles at the sheer fun of it all.
Cardboard placards introduce them first of all as themselves, then as famous characters from Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series, then as fantasy archetypes, and finally as the characters in the show, who are representative of those archetypes. To anybody who absorbed themselves in those worlds as a child, and grew up attempting to create worlds of their own, it’s a familiar story, and one that garners a few nods of recognition from the audience. The actors sing their own epic music as they outfit themselves for adventures – replete with cardboard breastplate and feather duster sword, it again conjures up childhood memories of make believe. The action starts with the culmination of the quest, a sly nod to the understanding that, in fantasy, we expect everything to turn out mostly-OK in the end. We are then transported abruptly back in time to see their adventures, involving canny use of props and the limited space to set the scene.
The narrative of our heroes is interspersed with personal anecdotes from our heroes – songs of childhood dreams and stories of Japanese ceremonies to rid the house of evil. The cardboard placards also come back into play, posing questions about what it means to be a hero, greatest fears and greatest quests. This section could have been trite – after all, these are fairly obvious questions – but the obvious sincerity with which they are answered makes it instead refreshingly straightforward.
Much of the emotion within the main story is played large for laughs, but they still manage to give it real emotional weight when necessary. Louise Dickinson particularly shines, constantly full of energy and verve, and switching in and out of her character ‘Twig’ effortlessly. In some ways, it is reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s Doctor Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog – constant reference to familiar tropes, falling into just the right side of cheesy with dance-along pop numbers at pivotal moments, and some real tears near the end. Georgia’s story is recast in a magical, fantastical light by Louise, with her all-too-human, heart-breaking interjections. It is easy to get lost in these black-and-white definitions and epic stories of heroes who nearly always win, but the real power of this piece is that we don’t quite want to – because the actors and their lives, and their friendship, are even more enthralling. And that’s quite something.