The Night Guardian
By Jessica Messenger
PICA Performance Space
REVIEW: DAVID ZAMPATTI
There are some things that are just too hard to put on a stage. The antics of caped crusaders and their ilk are among them.
All the money in the world, and nine months of previews, was nearly not enough to get Spiderman to fly on Broadway, and this attempt at the genre, by the tenacious Ellander Productions, falls way short of the mark.
The first problem is Jessica Messenger's script, which clunks its way through the story of the young superhero of the title (Ellen O'Connor), whose powers seem to include short-circuiting power grids and whose hands operate rather like Tasers. She has an arch-nemesis, the elusive Dr Chaos (Nick Maclaine), but when their worlds collide out of uniform, so to speak, they form an unlikely team against the forces behind the Orwellian state power personified by the Night Guardian's mentor and sensei (Rhoda Lopez).
So far so good, but the narrative flow of the plot - despite its very straightforward A to Z story arc - is terribly inefficient, and the director, the more-than-capable Lawrie Cullen-Tait, is often powerless to keep its momentum up.
Neither does Messenger give her characters, with the partial exception of Maclaine's Dr Chaos, much to work with. It's frustrating to see an actor as good as Rhoda Lopez forced to trot out cringe-worthy Orientalisms and use none of her range and power.
O'Connor is okay in parts, but she lacks vocal punch, and wasn't helped by a poorly modulated sound design that often drowned her out.
Not much to recommend it, I'm afraid.
The Night Guardian runs until February 8.