Review: “Team of Heroes: No More Heroes” by Alexander Harris. Directed by Jaime Roberts. With Libby Barnard, Nik Doner, Alyssa Keene, Tracy Leigh, Jason Sharp, Rachel Jackson, Curtis Eastwood, Sam Hagen. Now through May 25, 2013 at Annex Theatre.
Sequels are hard. Frequently, they just aren’t very good…it’s hard to capture the original magic from the first film/play/book/comic. They are usually highly anticipated by hardcore fans, but if they stray too far off the formula that made the original a hit, they can sink faster than you can say, “Showgirls 2”.
Those genre loving kids over at the Annex Theatre had a big hit a couple years back with their cute play, “Alecto: Issue #1” a cheery, tongue in cheek super hero soap opera complete with larger than life heroes, crazier than hell villains, miniatures, wacky sound effects and even an evil puppet. It was all largely aided by a clever script and some charming DIY special effects, something Annex is well known for. It was followed by a prequel, “Team of Heroes: Behind Closed Doors” which burrowed more deeply into the origin story of the ToH; it was also a charmer though considerably darker than the original outing.
The trilogy concludes with Annex’s currently running “Team of Heroes: No More Heroes” and things are indeed much darker than the previous two outings…the Team has lost their powers with some members supposedly dead, and others not coping well with their downsizing. It’s pretty grim…the “Dark Knight” of the ToH series, and sadly, the premise is wearing a bit thin. There’s a lot of repeated jokes from the previous entries and unless you have a brilliant memory, it’s tough to remember what happened previously. There’s also a problem with the fact there are a lot of characters in this play, but only 8 actors…there’s a lot of tripling up on roles and it can be tough to remember who’s playing who at any given time. (Though, to give credit, there IS a funny joke about that situation with one character explaining that a look alike recently demised character was a twin sister…)
And, to be frank, this leaner, meaner, out of work team is also a tad duller without their skin tight costumes…they’ve been stripped of their powers AND the Lycra, so you’re left without a prurient opportunity to ogle attractive actors wearing costumes that left little to the imagination. Candace Franks’ gritty crime fighting costumes are attractive and appropriate, but not nearly as bulgy as before. The other tech/design work is also fine…Annex excels at fun design at a bargain basement budget, but many of the gimmicks here have already been used in the previous installments.
The actors are all fine as well, and clearly relishing their roles, but again, it’s nothing very new or interesting. I’m gonna single out Curtis Eastwood for doing something new and different; I’ve given him crap before for frequently playing “The Asshole In A Suit” in many Annex productions. Here he’s sweet, charming and adorable as a supposedly make believe invisible pig named “Piggy Pig”. It’s a treat to see Mr. Eastwood out of a suit and playing nice for a change….we like the kinder, gentler Curtis Eastwood!
“Team of Heroes: No More Heroes” isn’t a bad play…it’s just clearly run its course. Fans of the original two plays will probably drunkenly enjoy this wrap-up. For everyone else, it might be best to wait for it to show up on Netflix.