Five Stars from The Scots Reviewer

Hero Worship – Edinburgh Fringe Review

Face-alone

Writer/Performer: Kenny Boyle

Venue: C Nova, Edinburgh

★★★★★


Hero Worship is a late entry to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival but better late than never!

The show follow the life of a grown orphan who go through his life as a ‘superhero’. With a beautifully rhythmic text, we see him battle with his arch nemesis — his own inner demons.

The hero paints his ideal world on stage as comic books fly through the air, wanting to live in amongst a world of fantasy and mystery. This eventually diminishes as his problems come to light through a narrative of superhero references and blunt revelations. The monologue masterfully weaves through the highs and lows of the character and his experiences, taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster.

Boyle’s performance is nothing less than mesmerising. He is a fearless entertainer who doesn’t hesitate one bit to venture into the dark sides of his character and to get the audience involved in the action. His presence and energy onstage is appealing and easily motivates the audience to follow and do what he says. Safe to say he is one of the best performers present at this years Fringe.

Kudos must be given to the show’s capacity to be open for all ages, especially when it deals subjects that can be extremely grim. All in all, Boyle’s self-penned show present incredibly light and hopeful analysis of the dark cloud that follows many.

Hero Worship runs until the 29th August.

Image Credit: Kenny Boyle

Audience reviews for Edinburgh Fringe 2016

So many lovely tweets came in about hero worship.

Here are but a selection…

Lord Of the Ring’s SEAN ASTIN reviews Hero Worship

In one of the weirdest and most magical events that has ever happened to me on Stage, I had Sean Astin – famous for the Goonies, Lord of the Rings, and the Colour of Magic to name but a few – come and see my (relatively tiny and unknown) fringe show!

Here’s what he tweeted afterwards….


Four Stars from TV Bomb

Thank you TV bomb! Glad you liked the show!

Hero Worship

at C venues – C

* * * * -

A lighthearted exploration of serious issues which entertains without trivialising.

Image of Hero Worship

One man shows are always a tricky minefield to navigate, as a single person tasked with holding the attention of an entire audience for a whole hour is no mean feat. In Hero Worship, Kenny Boyle not only successfully elicits laughs, empathy and pathos from the 30-strong crowd for the duration of his show, but does so while combining the niche topic of comic book superheroes with the even more niche area of mental health.

Often productions such as this which try to combine the heartfelt with the humorous can come off as laboured or hackneyed, or even worse, trite and simplistic. While the 60 minutes does limit Boyle’s exploration of mental health issues significantly, he dips enough of a toe into the topic to just about justify the show’s billing. The issue could seem a little glossed over, but such light treatment is far preferable to compromising the quality of the show by getting too preoccupied with what is a very slippery subject, and in the end his handling is more entertaining than enlightening – but that’s perfectly acceptable (and perhaps preferable to many) at the Edinburgh Fringe.

The medium of his show is even more impressive. He mixes eloquently-crafted spoken word rhymes with a touching (if a little formulaic) story, sprinkling the combination liberally with pop culture references and making the sort of self-aware observations that won Deadpool so much acclaim. An intimate knowledge of the graphic novel world will certainly enhance the production but is not imperative to its enjoyment, since the journey Boyle takes us on is a universal one.

At times the cleverness of his wordplay threatens to overwhelm the story, with his delivery becoming tongue-tied on one occasion and forcing the audience to stay mentally agile in order to keep on top of his verbal somersaults throughout. However, it’s the opening day of his run and initial teething problems are to be expected. The criticisms are only superficial and there’s nothing that can’t be ironed out through practice and refinement.

In terms of telling an age-old story through new and innovative means – while opening up a subject that can be difficult and intimidating to a wider audience – Boyle’s show is a superb piece of theatre. Equal parts comedy, drama, action and romance, it’s a down-to-earth and relevant production which explores the secret someone inside of us all. Regardless of whether it’s a show we deserve or need, it’s certainly a show we all want at the Fringe.

The Sick of the Fringe review Hero Worship

TSOTF wrote lovely things about the show after seeing it and it’s excellent to know the mental health message is coming across.

Hero Worship deals with comics as a coping mechanism and is the latest in a series of monologues by admired writer-performer Kenny Boyle. Cyberpunk clothing and a utility belt are instantly familiar from the comic Kick Ass as is our hero, a 21st century everyman working in a SUPERmarket. His main enemies are probably familiar to all of us and go by the names of anxiety, depression and uncertainty.  Using imagination to escape the mundane is a central theme in hero Worship but it’s stressed, that the complexities of real life are what make us who we are and build our personalities. Boyle reiterates though out the performance that it’s everyday moral choices such as caring for an animal or falling in love that make us truly powerful.

Just like Batman and Superman our hero is an orphan and troubled by childhood loss. By becoming The Flash he suggests his imagination lets him run so fast, that death and pain become insignificant. Boyle uses spoken word filled with rhyming references to a vast comic universe to transcend reality, but this doesn’t stop him bringing us violently down to earth with a powerful description of a physical attack.

During the performance Boyle points to members of the audience and assigns them powers: these aren’t telekinesis or invisibility, but empathy and commonsense. Hero Worship consistently asserts that men in tights and robot fights can do wonders to bolster self-confidence and self-awareness.

Comics preserve the tradition of visual storytelling vital to humanity. More recently, they have become a literary platform that pushes traditional narrative boundaries by addressing a whole spectrum of physical and mental health issues, ranging from body shaming and feminism to LGBT rights. These days graphic novels have a lot to say. At the end of the performance when our hero is unmasked and the therapy is complete. He has escaped the escapism and been assured by his new found love that she didn’t need saving; just for him to be there, a partner in life’s daily fight.

To be continued…(LO)

Hero Worship is on at 13.30 at C venues – C (Venue 34) until August 29th. Wheelchair Access, Level Access –https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/hero-worship

Welcome to Bitch Planet – the comic that’s reimagining feminism: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/06/bitch-planet-comic-feminism

The Rise of Superhero Therapy – Comic Books as Psychological Treatment: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/17/the-rise-of-superhero-therapy-comic-books-as-psychological-treatment.html

The effect of comic books on the ideology of children: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/ort/11/3/540/

The visual magic of comics – Scott McCloud: https://www.ted.com/talks/scott_mccloud_on_comics?language=en

The Outlier gives another 4 stars

Another Outlier reivewer enjoyed Hero Worship in it’s Fringe show form!

Review: Hero Worship

Sonic Boom Theatre Company
C Venues until August 29th
4 Stars (4 / 5)

Hero Worship is an action-packed monologue by Kenny Boyle. With it being a monologue, how could it be action-packed? It is, when the battle is with one’s inner demons.

As audience members stream in, Boyle is already suited up in heroic gear—clunky boots, spandex, a mask, and no cape because “you know the rules”. He starts the show recalling his lamentable week and already proves that he is as average as the rest of humanity. Through the telling of his journey to become a superhero and a newfound friendship with a puppy called Found, he invites the audience to imagine with him what lies beyond the bare stage and reality. And then as he discovers a new ally in a young woman who does not think him a loser for being into graphic novels, he rediscovers what it means to be a superhero.

It is exciting and entertaining to be in the same room as Boyle. He is personable and charismatic and does not underestimate the value of a character attempting to break from mundanity and mediocrity. Everyone loves an underdog. Furthermore, frequent audience interaction is an effective reminder of the concept’s silliness. Unfortunately, there are moments, particularly those of vulnerability and sadness, that seem contrived. The words, however poignant, do not hit as hard when the acting signposts the emotions, and this breaks the otherwise genuine and intimate feel of the piece.

All in all, Hero Worship by Sonic Boom Theatre Company is definitely worth a catch, for those who love comics, or would like a good reminder of his or her own extraordinariness. Boyle has successfully woven reality into fantasy with his solo act.

Three Weeks – 4 star Review

Hero Worship (Sonic Boom Theatre Company)

By | Published on Friday 26 August 2016

Hero Worship Ed2016

Comic book references are laced through ‘Hero Worship’, like the adamantium coating Wolverine’s skeleton. If that made no sense to you, then you may struggle with this play, as the superhero tropes fly thick and fast throughout; that being said, even without the pop-culture knowledge there is much to admire in this one-man show, which invites us to find our own powers, and to overcome the villains: depression, self-doubt and anxiety. If I had to find fault, the third act – like that of many superhero movies – is perhaps a little erratic, but writer/performer Kenny Boyle delivers something special. ‘Hero Worship’ is charming, witty and effortlessly entertaining, by turns funny and moving. Just like a good comic book, really.

C, until 29 Aug.
tw rating 4/5 | [Andy Leask]

Geek Chocolate on Hero Worship

Geek Chocolate wrote lovely things about Hero Worship –

Hero Worship

EdFringeHerosmSuperheroes are ubiquitous. Where in the seventies it was cop shows, the eighties action shows, the nineties police and legal procedurals, since the success of Bryan Singer’s X-Men in 2000 the floodgates have opened what was once a niche market to the flood of mainstream acceptance with both Marvel and DC building extended universes across cinema and television. Hero worship is in.

And it’s easy to see why. Bold, dynamic, unflinching, with cool costumes – sometimes even capes – even when conflicted they agonise over their decision with the brooding chic of a hero. Their every action by extension echoes across the world, every kitten saved from a tree a metaphor for the innocent delivered from their tragic fate.

EdFringeHero1Through the eyes of writer/performer Kenny Boyle, the heroic and the mundane are already linked, opening with his diary entry of the defeat of “some guy in a leotard who claimed he was my nemesis,” before admitting that his attempt to iron his own Lycra costume was not so successful and that he’s now having to make a new one.

Boyle claims his superpower is walking which is really good for the planet, and certainly he’s got the legs for the costume to prove it, but his true strength is one to which no hero will admit, his aching vulnerability and his desperately human need for connection, even if it only with an abandoned puppy. Every personal tragedy is a reason to push harder, to be the better hero. It has to be, because looking back would be to allow the fantasy to unravel.

EdFringeHero3Tempered with an affectionate awareness of how ridiculous comic book convention can be (“see through call boxes – no privacy!”) and his own obsession with them, Boyle involves the audience from the start as he asks them to picture his moonlit rooftop stage set, unable to afford one having spent the whole budget for effects on buying yet more comics. Above all, respect the comics!

A personable rather than refined performer, Hero Worship channels the honesty of experience and is a sweet and accessible play about coping with the adversity of the everyday by making the big things small and the small things big, the hope that if you can run fast enough from the worst things that they may diminish to infinity.

EdFringeHero2While it may not be possible to punch anxiety in the face or have a rooftop battle with self-doubt, there are things he can do to vanquish his enemies and he encourages the audience to join him in visualising their own personal supervillains lined up for retribution even as one of them takes care of his imaginary puppy sidekick.

Performed in the basement theatre of Chambers Street – the only actual dedicated performance space in that building – the shields of heroes past lining the walls only serve to enhance the feeling that, for now at least, great deeds are possible, even if the greatest achievement is to keep going on and believing things will be okay.

Hero Worship continues at C on Chambers Street until August 29th

Niki Boyle of the Scotsman on Hero Worship

Another lovely review from the Scotsman…

HERO WORSHIP REVIEW – NIKI BOYLE – THE SCOTSMAN – AUG 2016

Hero Worship – Written and performed by Kenny Boyle (no relation).Tackling anxiety and mental health with extensive reference to graphic novels, it’s not a superhero story per se, though Boyle makes a strong case for regarding the surmounting of everyday challenges as being, on some level, heroic. Interspersed with lengthy stretches of audience interaction, he relates a first person narrative featuring an intrepid puppy, romantic awakening, family tragedy and an unquenchable thirst for comic books (his series of motivational letters to Peter Parker is a particular highlight.)

It’s a passionate, heartfelt and funny performance that marks Boyle out as one to watch – there’s a touch of the Tom Hiddlestons about him…

An engaging performance and one that comic book geeks will love.

Review will hoepfully be up on the Scotsman webpage in due course! For now it only exists in print.