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Theater Wed Jul 21 2010

Review: The League of Awesome @ The Factory Theater

Zoe (Corri Feuerstein) kicks some ass while Sylvia (Sara Sevigny) enjoys a cocktail.


The best thing about The Factory Theater is that every production comes from original writing by ensemble members. The League of Awesome marks the first Factory writing credits for Corri Feuerstein and Sara Sevigny, who also appear in the play as Zoe and Sylvia respectively, and is the directorial debut for Matt Engle.

The storyline is typical Factory-style madcap: there is a villain afoot in the city by the name of Drake Hurtcliffe (Dan Granata), aka The Sorrowmaker, and the local cadre of superheroes -- The League of Awesome -- is out to get him. The league is a band of women: Zoe, aka The Beacon (Corri Feuerstein); Kitty, aka Cat Scratch (Erin Myers); and Rumble (Melissa Tropp). It soon becomes apparent that Sylvia, a bookworm with a drinking habit, has superpowers of her own that involve a near-photographic memory of The Hardy Boys book series. She becomes part of The League, as does her sister Penny (Angelina Martinez), who has the power to get terrible songs stuck in other people's heads, rendering them immobile.

awesome3 copy.jpg

Top row: Sara Sevigny, Matt Kahler, Wm. Bullion.
Bottom row: Erin Myers, Corri Feurestein, and Melissa Tropp strike an awesome pose.
Photo credit: Paul Metreyeon.


What follows is 90 minutes of nonstop action that includes the use of Kokens -- black robed assistants from the Japanese Kabuki theater tradition, who assist the actors in demonstrating feats of superhuman strength and aid in creating sound effects; clever use of musical memes; and a narrator named Gladys (Wm. Bullion) who moves the story forward in a style that's one part Waylon Jennings circa "The Dukes of Hazzard" (minus the banjo), one part Naked City-style film noir narration, and one part "Rocky and Bullwinkle" voiceover. Gladys is central to the piece, engaging the audience as he delivers omniscient pearls of wisdom with impeccable comic timing, and explaining the clever staging of the theater's limited space.

Feuerstein and Granata play opposite each other as arch rivals in a style that is punchy and physical, culminating in a well executed dance scene that, through intermittent asides, brings the audience up to speed on the history of their relationship. Sevingy falls into the role of unintended superhero with seamless humor. At a pivotal moment she enacts the best slow-mo transformation from regular citizen into superhero I've seen in live theater.

Between the Kokens, the dancing and the fight choreography, there's no room for wasted movement onstage. This is a tight and entertaining production, and is as close as you're going to get to seeing actual superheroes on Elston Avenue. Also featuring Catherine Dughi as Lucia Cornwall, Sara Gorsky as Ms. Great, Matt Kahler as Commissioner Byrd, Paul Metreyeon as Marty Horticoop, and Timothy C. Amos, Ray Brazaski, Jill Oliver, Casey Pilkenton, and John Sevigny in the roles of Goon/Koken.

The League of Awesome runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm through August 21st, with a special Industry Night Show on July 26. The Factory Theater is located at 3502 N. Elston. Tickets are $15-$20, $5 for Industry Night. For more info call 866-811-4111 or visit The Factory Theater.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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