Election Section

Meanwhile, Back at the Super Lair, Four Superheroes Fight Evil and Struggle With the Meaning of it All: By BETSY M. HUNTON

Special to the Planet
Friday November 19, 2004

Impact Theatre has pulled out most of the stops with its current production, Meanwhile, Back at the Super Lair… Granted, a theater company determined to make every Thursday night a “Pay what you can” performance, as well as to keep its most expensive ticket at a pleasant $15 ($10 for students), may not offer an awful lot of dazzling stage effects. But there wouldn’t be much room for such high-falutin’ carryings on in their lair in the black basement at La Val’s Pizza Parlor anyway.  

What the company has served up is yet another bubble of pure nonsense with absolutely no earnest message to be found. It’s all just for fun. (You could argue that the ending wanders into an unnecessary reality, and it’s not awfully clear why the first scene of the second act is necessary, but they’re both easy enough to ignore). 

Super Lair concerns itself with four fake “Superheroes” whose images appear to have been blithely co-opted from the nearest comic book store. The set-up is that 10 years ago the then-recent college grads were accidentally responsible for solving a crime and the city has been crime-free ever since. 

With the sweeping logic common to entertainments like this one, the mayor immediately hired the quartet to handle the city’s (non-existent) crime problem. They promptly donned Super-Hero costumes and have spent the last 10 years with absolutely nothing to do except to hang around the Super-Lair (a sub-let apartment), wearing spandex and playing cards.  

They are, in short, not at all prepared when two really scary challenges show up. First (and maybe the scariest) is in the quiet form of “Darrell” (DJ Lapite). He’s a relatively sane civil servant, sent by the mayor to observe the Lair and evaluate whether or not they’re doing anything worth the money they cost the city. 

“The Human Fly” (Pete Caslavka) has his own agenda, which leads to the quartet’s second challenge, as well as the most effective part of the production: the fast-paced and really funny “Superheroes Against the Villains” fights. (Christopher Morrison has created truly terrific fight choreography).  

The Fly’s struggles with the meaning of it all (including his not totally solid relationship with Leopard Woman) has him putting in some supposedly therapeutic time with “Dr. Reynolds” (Jennifer Lucas, who rather remarkably also spends time being “Eddie One Arm” and just plain “Thug”). 

“Silver Streak,” the fourth member of the heroic quartet, is played by Jon Nagel, who also designed the set—never a small problem for the tiny stage space available in what must be the most truly “intimate” stage setting in the area. Nagel’s a good-sized guy himself, who theoretically would be a serious contender in the play’s battle against the Forces of Evil. However, bless his heart, Silver Streak isn’t conceived as the brightest light on the block; but he’d still be a pretty good guy to have on your side in a pinch. 

A sub-theme here is the occasionally rocky relationship between The Human Fly and Leopard Woman—an issue which leads to some rather impressive off-stage sound effects that most parents would probably not relish explaining to children in the middle of a crowd. 

Impact’s target audience is, after all, the 18 to 35-year-old demographic, and this production seems a good fit for exactly that. 

But let’s don’t underestimate the spandex. Amy Nielson’s comic-book-super-hero costumes are one of the great delights of the evening. Possibly the two most memorable are Rhino Man’s (Steven Epperson) horned, baby-blue, quasi “Sleeper Jammies” and Leopard Woman’s (Alexandra Creighton) skin-tight leopard skin—both of which make the most of the actors’ hand-in-glove fit for their roles. 

Impact has loaded the cast with a group of their most talented actors, who are obviously enjoying themselves in this romp through never-never land.