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how i learned to become a Superhero @ The Gloria Maddox Theatre at T. Schreiber Studios

SuperheroIn the grand tradition of Cats, how i learned to become a Superhero lets you know what you’re in for right off the bat. It’s the story of three people and the different motivations that lead them to create alternate personalities. Actually it’s three concurrent stories that don’t intertwine at all. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just a little disorienting until you realize how its been put together.

The horribly named superhero Hope has by far the most interesting back story of the three (I won’t spoil it). So its a shame that the rest of his scenes are so weak. The developing relationship between him and a homeless woman is barely believable and their scenes together feature the show’s worst dialogue. I get the impression that writer Dennis Flanagan put all his focus on the rest of the script and then tossed off these parts to pad out the play. Because the rest of the writing is pretty good. In only four scenes (really three and a half) the character Guardian Angel is fully developed and receives a satisfying story arc with an unexpected twist. Her small segment could have been expanded into a show of its own and yet it was perfect the way it was. This is because there was so much nuance in the writing and the performances. Guardian Angel’s conversations with her hapless neighbor go from hilarious to terrifying and actress Gwynneth Bensen is note-perfect throughout. Like I said, I could have watched a show all about this character but there was something enjoyable about watching the action switch between three different masked vigilantes. If anything, it kept things moving. Which brings me to our final hero.

Safety Pilot has a totally clich√© storyline. His father was abusive, his brother left home, and all he wanted to do was protect his mother but he was just a kid. Blah, Blah, Blah. You could’ve written that. Yet I looked forward to every time he took the stage. I’m going to chalk that up to his portrayal by Christopher Sears. There’s something incredibly watchable about this guy. He’s good-natured and goofy but also highly sympathetic, everything a classic superhero should be. While his story was predictable it was also inspiring.

The three story form of how i learned to become a Superhero wasn’t always greater than the some of it’s parts but ultimately it worked. It can be seen now through April 27th Wednesday-Sunday.

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