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Fringe Review: Well Isn’t This Super… (Marvellous Man IV: The Return of Marvellous Man)

By Jennifer Cavanagh on June 17, 2016

60 minutes |Comedy | Play |PG

A rather sophisticated story with sweet perspective shifts. Well Isn’t This Super… exhibits an impressive maturity by Dead Unicorn Ink while their irreverent edge remains firmly intact. In the amusing opening sequence, a Tinder hook-up reveals itself to be the set of a superhero movie. The production shifts between the on-set film, with actors in character, to characters with real-life struggles trying to make their professional mark.

Newcomer Nikki Reilly is trying desperately to establish her character Mystic Quartz as a viable superhero lead alongside the eponymous star of the Marvellous Man franchise Dan Stevens and cheering frat-boy director Michael Cove. Corseted, in stilettos and a mini-skirt it is when the director yells cut that the misogyny at the heart of the piece really comes to the fore. Dismissed and marginalized, Dan even refers to her as “tits”, Nikki has visions of a strong independent female superhero and a possible spin-off franchise.

Pace and comedy keep the storyline brisk despite the characters’ struggles with casual—even institutionalized—sexism and the insincerity of the Hollywood promise. Creator Patricia Forbes does an admirable job providing serious content with no heavy lifting required by the audience. The writing is crisp and action swift as it moves from between-scene conversations to on-camera sequences with over-the-top hokey dialogue and a very winning supervillain. It’s an ensemble piece where everyone pulls their weight. The roles of Nikki and Dan are assuredly strong while Len, the androgynous runner, provides a delightful performance where an alliance is counter-balanced by personal aims reflecting the narcissism throughout the piece. The cast are accomplished and deft throughout delivering a brilliantly performed work.

As the production plays out there are more twists and turns as each character tries to solidify their own position to the detriment of their colleague. Who ends up on top remains to be seen in this trust-free environment.

You should book in early for Well Isn’t This Super… as it has the hallmarks of a festival favourite.

Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016

Well Isn’t this Super…
BYOV Nostalgica Café 601 Cumberland St.

June 15-26, 2016