Hero takes a fall

Woman vs. Superman

Written and directed by Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons
Ciara Productions
Midtown International Theatre Festival
Raw Space Theatre M
529 W. 42nd St. (279-4200/www.ticketcentral.org)
Equity showcase (closes Aug. 4)
Review by Elias Stimac

Woman vs. Superman has an intriguing premise -- what if your husband thought he was a superhero, and to teach him a lesson you go along with his delusion, encouraging him to attempt dangerous stunts, only to ultimately drive him to his death?

Kelly Jean Fitzsimmonss "dark comedy about desire and secret identity" takes this story idea and runs with it, filling out the story with a police investigation and interludes with several would-be accomplices. But it also plays on several levels at the same time -- is the wife Laura crazy? Did she imagine the whole chain of events that led to her spouse Kurts suicide? Or did everything she confesses to really happen, and those who were in on it are merely feigning ignorance?

These are questions that must be answered by the audience members, because Fitzsimmons mischievously sidesteps any concrete conclusions. Unfortunately, this ambiguity doesnt always help keep viewers involved in Lauras plight. Also, the recurring episodes between Laura and her conspirators seem unnecessary after their initial set-up. And the frequent present-time episodes in the police station dont do much to further the action along.

Fitzsimmons directed the series of scenes with smooth transitions and split-stage focus. She also cast the play well, with Alyssa Simon a strong stand-out as the misguided Laura, who realizes too late that she wanted a superhero in her life all along. Todd Lawhorne portrayed the husband obsessed with the "Man of Steel" in a likeable, low-key manner.

As the co-workers enlisted to help Laura in her deceptive plot, Shawn Hicks was intense and intimidating as newspaper honcho Larry Black, and Kristen Patti was seductively surreptitious as Curts real-life Lois Lane, here named Lisa Liss. Fred Backus and Jorge Cordova made the most of their pedestrian investigator roles.

Jeff Venables provided the haunting sound design and original music. Brendan McGinley was credited as scenic artist, and the team of Mike Shanahan, Christina Odelfelt, and Christopher Blosser offered graphic design. One complaint -- the comic-book recreations that lined the back wall were too small and intricate to be fully appreciated from the house.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2002 Elias Stimac