Fringe review: The Superhero Who Loved Me

April Banigan and Kristi Hansen in The Superhero Who Loved Me. Photo by Mat Simpson.

By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca

The Superhero Who Loved Me (Stage 28, The Playhouse)

“Nobody expects an extra-dimensional portal to open in the world.”

Generally true. And nobody expects to go home with a superhero, drink too much vino, and hear about her workplace issues — fighting interplanetary terrorism on top of the sexism and homophobia of the military and all that.

You’re in luck if it happens, though. Chris Craddock’s new play, his first at the Fringe in half a dozen summers, lets us do all of the above, and more. It’s clever, it’s funny, it’ll unexpectedly touch your heart with thoughts about human mortality and the life arc of relationships.

The Superhero Who Loved Me takes behind the scenes in the life of Sam (Kristi Hansen) aka The Governess (“we suit up, and go!”) and Georgie (April Banigan), the woman she loves. They’re high school friends who re-connect after The Invasion through the old-fashioned techno-magic of Facebook messaging: “I know it’s been forever….”

There is nothing more complicated, in this world (or any other) than the back story of a superhero. And Sam’s, which involves a 10-year coma and a cure for fatal infirmity with super-power side effects, is no exception. And it’s sneakily woven into the play, with Craddock’s usual dexterity in dialogue, assisted materially by the actors. Hansen is a rueful and lonely closeted superhero under intricate constraints of disclosure. It’s for Banigan’s Georgie to convey the wonder, the terror, the incredulity of a mere mortal, falling in love across all kinds of lines. And she does. Their scenes together are sexy and romantic.

As you might expect, an unconventional relationship hits the usual rocky patches —hard. The friction between splashy superhero career vs. anonymous home/motherhood takes on new dimensions when one partner goes to work every day armed to kick ass and save billions of lives. The Superhero Who Loved Me sets two different sets of dramatic expectations (and entire lexicons, for that matter) against each other in a witty way.

And speaking of heroic tasks, it’s for director Wayne Paquette to figure out how on earth to make action-thriller scenes be jazzy on a tiny stage, and then flip into a domestic family drama side. And damn, he does it: his production is theatrical and fun.     

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