Review: Real Life Superhero (Minmar Gaslight Productions)

Toronto theatre that probes: Real Life Superhero will make you ask real life questions.

I must admit I walked into Real Life Superhero (Minmar Gaslight Productions) at the Winchester Street Theatre, thinking it would be a comedy. This is in spite of the blurb on the website that tells you it is about a reporter probing into the life of a superhero after he has been murdered.

I don’t know if it was the poster of a guy with an outfit or just the idea that a regular everyday person would put on a costume and going off into the night to fight crime seems so ridiculous that I made an unconscious assumption that it couldn’t possibly be about anything serious.

In reality Real Life Superhero is a look at what it means to be a hero, and asks questions about morals, and motivation. For me, personally, it dug a bit deeper into what makes us who we are, and how well the people around us know us.

The story is about a bank teller named Scott Cooke (Peter Church), who decides to put on a costume, call himself Justice and go out into the street to fight crime. It is told through interviews that a curious reporter (Lawrence Stevenson) conducts with friends, family and others who encountered Cooke. All the interviews are conducted after his death.

It’s an interesting narrative form because it truly shows us that each person in our lives sees a slightly different aspect of us and, therefore, forms a different perspective. Nobody can really say for sure what Justice actually thought or what drove him to do this, and that’s what makes it interesting, almost like putting together pieces of a puzzle.

They also ask these people whether Cooke was the true personality or if it was Justice – as they were quite different. Who was true and who was the alter ego, and was he, in fact, a superhero?

The cast was strong and versatile, which was a definite highlight for me and my show partner, in particular Frank Keenan as the Police Officer and Daniel Staseff as the Young Man/Killer. I found myself wanting to know Cooke a little bit better, and understand him myself.

The one area of development would be transitions – which were a little long. The show alternates between scenes with the Writer and scenes of Justice in action. The latter were generally shorter, in some cases the transitions felt as long as the shorter scenes so the pacing suffered a little as a result.

That said, the show made me ask myself what I would be willing to do for the people around me, and this far outweighed any shortcoming in execution. We all have biases, and at the beginning, I felt that Scott Cooke must have been a bit strange: I’m sure I’m not the only one. By the end, I wasn’t so sure.

While walking home today I saw a girl clad in a skin-tight silver costume, with a cape and a quiver of arrows slung over her chest. I instantly leapt to the conclusion that she must be a weirdo, but somehow I found myself backing off just a little. What gives me the right to judge and how can I really know who she is inside?


Real Life Superhero is playing at Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester) until August 26, 2012
– Shows run Wednesday to Saturday at 7:30 pm, with an additional matinee on Sunday at 1:30pm
– Ticket prices are $20
– Tickets are available at the door