From page to stage in superhero quest
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.