Monday, June 5, 2017

Review of New Millennium Theatre Company's The Incredible Hank

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Incredible Hank. It was written and directed by Alex B. Reynolds. It was about a file clerk named Hank (Mike Movido) who has super-strength but is kind of in denial about it. He refuses to admit to anyone that he has super powers; he just wants to use them for filing. But he does have to use his superpowers for saving the world (not by filing) when a bomb has been placed in his workplace. With the help of his not-so-super sidekick Carl/TexasJustice (Jordan Pettis) and Mirageo (Derrick Ferguson), who is NOT a sidekick but actually has superpowers, Hank must defeat Flamelia (Jessica Rae Olsen) and Winterion (Scott Myers) after their boss Dr. Manticle (Megan Gill) has been killed. I think this show had a lot of clever moments and an interesting and fun concept.

The entire show is very goofy. You have to really enjoy crazy stories to really enjoy this show because it is pretty nonsensical and a lot of fun. If people are expecting a high-budget, stunt-filled, actors-swinging-from-the-ceiling show, that is not what you are going to get. But you are going to get a pretty funny comedy show about a person who doesn't want to be a superhero. The whole look of the show felt pretty low-budget, but that didn't strip it of its fun, and it had very visually interesting elements. They had these cartoons (by Tom Pleviak) of the characters in the program that were really cool to look at. And I thought the comic book cover on the back was very funny, clever, and well-executed. The costumes (by Jen Mohr) got the message across about who these characters were and what their powers were in a way that went really well with the feel of the rest of the show. They also used puppets to show the flying aspects and also some of the fighting, and I thought that was a very clever way of getting something that could look dumb if it was a person, like flying or the reverse centaur, and make it look cool and funny.

This felt to me like the kind of the thing that if I saw it at an improv show, I would think, this is completely genius! How did they think this up on the spot? But because it was scripted and had been worked on and rehearsed, it loses that spark of immediacy, so you have to make up for it by creating a more full story. That kind of story would have more developed characters and a more compelling and developed story. They were on their way to doing that, I just think they weren't completely there yet in every scene. The acting style was very goofy, and I think everyone realized they were in a goofball show, so that was appropriate and they were committed to the style. Nobody was like, I wish was performing Oedipus Rex. I do prefer when shows have a little more depth to them even if they are goofy, but I respect the style of this show.

There were a lot of clever moments that I really liked. They had this one character, Carl/TexasJustice, a white man whose "superpower" was basically guns. But the police (Chris Woolsey, David Coupe, and Chelsea DeBaise) didn't ever question him about the shooting of Dr. Manticle. They only accused Mirageo, an African-American superhero who is like the Flash. It makes you think about actual problems with racism in the real world, even though it is a goofball show. And guns aren't actually a superpower; they are just a way to kill. I was not expecting to get this kind of message in this show, but I think it did work. The Alpine Lion (Woolsey) was a very clever concept for a character--because who would think that the superman of this town would be an arctic explorer? He has a very long red beard and a badass fur coat, even though it clearly isn't always winter here. (If it were, there wouldn't be so many people in spandex! Ha.) I think Hank is also a very clever character because he is so awkward; he is like the opposite of a superhero, but he has superpowers. I would have liked to see his filing powers in action. Though it was pretty hilarious when he tries to dismantle the bomb with his super strength.

People who would like this show are people who like unlikely superheroes, goofball stories, and reverse centaurs. I think this is a fun show to watch. It has a lot of silly and clever elements. I liked it.

Photos: New Millennium Theatre Company

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