Modern Heroes 

Impact Theatre visits the superheroes at home.

Pity the Human Fly. His girlfriend, Leopard Woman, doesn't understand him, Paxil weight gain makes him look bad in his spandex, and the other members of the Super Tribe are upset because he didn't take responsibility for this week's chore wheel back at headquarters. Being a modern superhero ain't easy. Especially if you really don't have any superpowers, you're racked with existential angst, and the mayor is sending over an efficiency expert to see if your band of merry good-doers are a strain on city resources. It's enough to make a man wish there were some real supervillains around, something to give his life purpose.

That's the basic premise of Greg Kalleres' Meanwhile, Back at the Super Lair, a goofy, risqué romp through the underside of superherohood. In Kalleres' distressingly crime-free Sate City, there isn't much for four costumed-yet-powerless do-gooders to do, besides hanging around playing cards and going to the shrink. At least until the mysterious Eidolon, a vicious criminal mastermind, arrives to stir things up.

Impact stalwart Pete Caslavka runs a real risk of completely stealing the show. As the Human Fly, he whines disaffectedly, misquotes Camus, and hangs off his shrink's couch so the crown of his head touches the floor. As the Eidolon, he has a little jumping caper that shows off his black cape to perfectly evil advantage. Jon Nagel's Silver Streak is a superhero so upstanding -- and uptight -- that watching him eventually fall prey to Leopard Woman's charms is a hoot. Nagel has done his homework; the Silver Streak has the deep voice, the arms akimbo pose, and the manly outthrust chin of the classic superhero; he also cowers when the big red phone rings, and like his cohorts is supremely unprepared when real danger comes calling. Alexandra Creighton plays Leopard Woman as hot-headed and tough, yet still secretly dreaming of the love and adventure that might give her life meaning. Steve Epperson would be more interesting as the trash-talking, sarcastic Rhino Man if this weren't exactly the same character he played in Impact's last show, Fluffy Bunnies in a Field of Daisies, sans the spandex and the silly phallic horns on his head and belt buckle.

Playwright Kalleres makes fun of everything here, from D&D to whether men pee sitting down or standing up, but he's particularly biting when it comes to racism. For example, the efficiency expert sent to evaluate the Super Tribe is black, and the other characters say perfectly awful things in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with him. To which he responds disbelievingly, "I'm in hell, surrounded by racist white people in leotards." Which is a lot funnier in person, as is much of this play. Impact's hit-to-miss ratio has been improving steadily over the past few seasons, and Meanwhile is definitely in the first column. Even if it gets a little precious in places -- the extended monologues on the Meaning Of Life could be a little less, well, extended -- the concept is good, and the story is sure to amuse anyone familiar with the genre Kalleres is lampooning.


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