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Theatre/Comedy Review: Hero Worship (****)

Lorna Irvine reviews production ‘delivered with chutzpah and clear-eyed pathos’.

Fade in: In tonight’s thrilling episode, we find our intrepid young hero…where else, but up on the roof looking down at a city that needs saving, straddling that intersection where post-adolescent ennui meets adult epiphany.

Writer/performer Kenny Boyle’s pacy, giddy one-man show is monologue, cheeky stand-up and self-help seminar all at once, delivered with chutzpah and clear-eyed pathos.

Bored of the crushing banality of his life, a young supermarket worker (Anachronism) seeks life in 3D Technicolor, finding a soul mate in a puppy, wide-eyed and lost as he is, and ultimately happiness in the fire of a young woman’s eyes.

Happily, none of these facets are as trite as they appear on paper, for what the immensely likeable Boyle, one half of Sonic Boom Theatre Company, crafts is a comedy aware of its own tendency to navel-gaze, reining things in with winning silliness like macho posturing when sentimentality threatens to overwhelm the narrative.

Hulk SMASH…fourth wall!

There’s a breathless, beautifully written lyricism here: a vivid graphic novel- like attention to detail and a nod to the tropes beloved of sci-fi fans which never once alienate the comic book virgins in the audience…loss, loneliness, alienation and human fallibility are, after all, traits everyone identifies with.

Only by embracing our shadow selves and hugging our inner geek, he suggests, can we become truly heroic. My Spidey senses tell me Kenny Boyle is a talent with a future, brighter than a well-aimed fireball. And not an inch of Spandex was used in the making of this show.

POW!

Part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, and touring until 21st March.

www.glasgowcomedyfestival.com

www.sonicboomtheatre.com

Webster's Theatre Audience reviews

Some delightful audience reviews from Webster’s Theatre!

 

“Saw this great show at Websters last night and for anyone who’s not seen it yet there is one more chance at Eastwood theatre on Saturday. I would really recommend it if you’re free, Kenny Boyle is an amazing writer/performer.”

“Went to the Mitchell Theatre for the first time last night and saw Kenny Boyle’s one man show Hero Worship. Very enjoyable show and having met Kenny a few times, he knows his stuff when it comes to comics! Glad I saw it.”

“I went along at Webster’s and it was a funny and touching tale acted with verbal dexterity and heart”

“Went to see Kenny Boyle in his one man (hero) show tonight…. If you can, go and see Kenny’s one man show this Saturday night at Eastwood Theatre… great, funny, thought provoking and very very clever! ”

“Hero Worship was fun thought provoking and full of giggles.”

“brilliant night… Single-handed!… on an empty stage!… Smashing energy…n creativity… lovely, funny and touching writing… Keep going!… you never disappoint”

 

And from Twitter:

More from The Extra, on Hero Worship

07:00Thursday 12 March 2015

It’s a tale of one man and his quest for a place in the world of caped crusaders in this week’s theatre spotlight — with a few laughs thrown in.

Giffnock player Kenny Boyle — one half of Glasgow company Sonic Boom — is gearing up to tackle the sizeable Eastwood stage on his own for Hero Worship, the theatre company’s latest offering on tour.

Audiences are invited along on an intimate journey into the inner thoughts and fears of Anachronism — a mild-mannered supermarket worker by day, superhero by night.

But what’s his superpower, you ask? Well, he’s still working that one out.

Kenny told The Extra: “He’s a little bit lost in the world, and isn’t sure what he’s meant for. He wants to fight crime — but doesn’t know what his superpower is yet.

“I’m hoping it feels intimate — it’s about making a connection with the audience, bringing them into his world so they can join him on that journey.”

A one man show, Hero Worship is told through a combination of theatre, storytelling and high-energy poetry — so this would-be superhero has his work cut out.

The show arrives at Eastwood Park Theatre on March 21, but those who want to catch it first can hop across the Clyde to westend theatre Websters on March 16, as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival programme.

Hero Worship Scotsman Review

22:25Sunday 15 March 2015

PERCHED between reflective 65-minute stand-up set and full-blooded solo theatre, Hero Worship is the latest in a series of monologues by acclaimed writer-performer Kenny Boyle. Our hero is a 21st century everyman in his early 20s, frightened by his own ordinariness and traumatised by the childhood loss of his mother, but with a mind full of superhero imagery from comics and films – during the show he refers to Spider-Man, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Thor, Batman and half a dozen more.

Hero Worship – Perth Concert Hall

But though an encyclopaedic knowledge of superhero literature is helpful in picking up every nuance of Boyle’s script, anyone with half a heart can appreciate the intense poetry of his hero’s rooftop attempts to escape the pain of everyday life, and his burgeoning relationships both with an insistent little puppy called Found, and with a magical girl for whom he has, after all, some super-powers of his own.

The play finally indulges in too many endings, sliding towards sentimental homespun philosophy, and Boyle needs to bring his delivery right up to the thrilling standard of his best writing. But his presence is as charismatic and memorable as his storytelling imagery, and he inhabits the inner world of generation superhero with a creative passion and humanity that’s hard to resist.

• Webster’s Theatre, Glasgow, tonight, and Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock, 21 March

Review by Mumble Theatre

Hero Worship

One Touch Theatre Eden Court Inverness

10 March 2015

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What is your superpower? Does everyone have a superpower? Does everyone have a secret identity? This is the question that Kenny Boyle tries to find out in his one man show about love life and comic books. Hero Worship tells the tale of a young man facing life’s problems with the lessons learned from comic books. Starting off from a dramatic rooftop stand-off above a busy city, the hero (Anachronism) starts to describe the events that led him there. Who is Anachronism and what is his purpose? Interacting with the audience to help them guess his powers, he tells of his very ordinary life working in a supermarket by day ‘patrolling’ the local park by night and finding violence, love and a small puppy.

The tale is beautifully woven together with the fantasies in the head of the protagonist clashing against the realities of day to day living. Kenny portrays a very convincing character that you cannot help but sympathise with. He shows a range of talent and his energy is infectious. Of course he also demonstrates an encyclopaedic knowledge of comic books. It is a very engaging show, with moments of comedy and moments of high emotion. Kenny brings to life a very different kind of hero and engages and delights the audience. The show is currently touring in Ayr, Perth, Arbroath and Giffnock, & to the good folk of those towns – especially to teenagers to early twenties -I would recommend this play. FOUR STARS

 

Reviewer : Stewart Tonkin

Audience Reviews – Ayr Gaiety and Perth Concert Hall

Some lovely audience reviews  coming in from the shows in Ayr and Perth!

“I was working on the Gaiety door tonight and when the audience had taken their seats, I was privileged to watch the performance of Kenny Boyle in Hero Worship. This was a clever, sensitive, one man show with a monologue of just over an hour and audience participation. It was a ‘super’ performance and enjoyed by everyone who saw it. He repeats his show tomorrow night in Perth and Glasgow on Monday, so if you are in these areas then you should buy a ticket and become a super hero for the night!”

“Tonight we went to The Gaiety to see the Sonic Boom Theatre Company and Mr Kenny Boyle .Stunning performance by a very talented young actor and writer. I enjoyed every moment,I laughed and cried. A few years ago we as a family went to the same theatre to see Honor Blackman in a one woman show. She held the stage for an hour or more. It is a VERY difficult thing to do but an actress of her calibre you would expect no less. She was however on the big stage with the added comfort of ‘distance’, the actors security blanket! The new Studio at the Gaiety Theatre Ayr offers no blanket! Kenny Boyle gave a VERY BRAVE, WHITES OF THEIR EYES kind of performance! Holding attention, charging imagination and inspiring young and old! Kenny Boyle is an up and coming talent, a young actor with charisma, guts and likeability.Watch this space as this talent is TO BE CONTINUED!!!!”

“Just home from Hero Worship with my hero loving Fragile X son and we all loved it – please pass on our thanks and good wishes to Kenny Boyle and more of this please! Well written and delivered.”

 

And some twitter comments!

 

WhatsOn North on Hero Worship

From page to stage in superhero quest

No hero: Kenny Boyle as Anachronism.

No hero: Kenny Boyle as Anachronism.

SUMMER holidays on Lewis turned Kenny Boyle into a superhero.

At least it was the comics he read to keep him entertained on those Hebridean holidays that have inspired his one-man show, Hero Worship, which comes to Eden Court next week.

“My dad was down in Glasgow and he would keep myself and my siblings entertained by sending us comics, that’s where the interest originally came from. I thought it was a rich topic to write a play about and that’s what I’ve finally done,” Boyle said.

“All those years later I’ve finally used all that stuff from those comics that was just filling my brain with nonsense to make something useful and hopefully very entertaining.”

Boyle’s character in Hero Worship, Anachronism, lives up to his name as a most unusual superhero, mainly because he is a superhero who does not actually have a superpower.

“The main character of the play is a young man who is trying to figure out his main purpose in life and what he can offer and decides he is a superhero,” Boyle explained.

“He just hasn’t figured out what his superpower is yet. It’s about that struggle everyone has at some point in their lives where they’re trying to figure out how they can make their life mean something to themselves and other people. The way the character goes about it is deciding he must be a superhero because that’s what he’s always wanted to be.”

Boyle, who describes himself as an actor first and a writer out of necessity, has also made a deliberate attempt to transfer some of the qualities of his favourite comics from the page to the stage.

“I really wanted the rhythm that comic books have,” he said.

“Quite a lot of this play is performance poetry so it rhymes at times. That’s about trying to recreate the rhythm that comics have.”

Now based in Glasgow, the former Royal Conservatoire of Scotland student may be surrounded by more entertainment options than he had on Lewis, but he still reads comics, as do many others of his age thanks to a generation of writers like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman who have used comics to explore more adult themes, while Hollywood has also discovered the lure of superheroes with blockbuster releases such as the X-Men and Avengers films,

“I think comics are finally coming into their own and are accepted into society now instead of people thinking they are just this lame, geeky thing,” Boyle said.

Some of the writers reinventing comics in recent years have been Scottish, among them Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, whose independent comic series inspired the Kick-Ass films and recent cinema release Kingsman: The Secret Service.

That Scotland has made its own contribute to the comics world seems natural for Boyle.

“It’s not surprising, considering how epic Scotland is,” he said.

“It’s got dramatic hills and Gotham-like cities in some places. It’s unsurprising we tend towards stories of the fantastic, esepcially because of the rich mythology of Scotland as well because really superheroes are just a mythology of their own.”

He has been delving into some of that mythology in his other job, guiding ghost tours around Edinburgh and Glasgow, which has also proved useful training for his play.

“It’s like doing a one-man show on a bus. You just entertain your audience and the hour flies by,” he said.

Boyle, who admits it is a dream of his to have a part in a superhero, has his own ideas about which superpower Anachronism, and himself, should have.

“I have thought about it and if I had a power, I’d probably go for teleportation,” he said.

“That’s just because I’m really lazy. You could go for something like running really fast like the Flash, but it just seems like too much effort.”

Hero Worship, written and performed by Kenny Boyle, is at the OneTouch Theatre, Eden Court, Inverness, on Tuesday10th March at 7.30pm.

Eden Court Audience Reviews

Eden Court have an absolutely lovely (and TERRIFYING) tradition where-by people seeing the show can write post it note reviews and stick them up! So, after last night’s opening performance of Hero Worship, here’s what the post its said!

Hero Worship at Eden Court, 10 March 2015

Post-it Reviews

“WE ARE GROOT”

“Hero Worship is one of those plays where you can’t help but smile. You can really connect with the character and all the comic references made me laugh. Thank you for putting on an excellent show!”

“This play was really inspiring; it reminds you that there is a Superhero in everyone. Even if you aren’t into comics, it is still enjoyable and a great show for a wide range of audience. Fabulous”

“Amazing one man performance. Managed to capture the character perfectly, engaging the audience within the story. Well paced performance and amazingly simplistic set that didn’t alter the show as a whole, as I initially thought. thoroughly enjoyed!”

“Your Show was fantastic! It was a fantastic example of a show that could control emotions flawlessly. The pop culture references were fantastic! I grooted this show so much. A tremendously real show; a nerdy insight into life’s ups and downs!”

“Absolutely wonderful performance. Loved the comic book references; big names and small names. You are both the hero the city deserves and needs. Now, I must go… My planet needs me…”

“Hero Worship is honestly one of the most enjoyable plays I’ve seen up to date! For any nerd or general Marvel/DC fan this play is for you! There’s laughs, touching moments and so much wonderful audience interaction. The concept of it being a one man show was amazing and worked amazingly in turn. I would honestly recommend this to everyone. Remember: We all have a power. We are Groot”

“Wonderful critical analysis of having a hobby that is your life. Well paced performance and stunning one-man character piece.  Appeals to a wide range of emotions. Maybe add references to lesser known comics, comic characters – I hope to see a reference to Ghost Rider and Rorschach and wish you the best with your show!”

And, because social media is king these days, some from the world of Twitter: