By Brett Nevue
Directed by Gus Menary
At Strawdog Theatre’s Hugen Hall
Clever world premiere film noir/comic book spoof suffers from being unrehearsed yet it is clever
As part of their off-night Hugen Hall series, Strawdog Theatre presents prolific Chicago playwright Brett Nevue’s latest work, Detective Partner Hero Villain. This is a clever, funny, yet poignant work that spoofs the old detective films of the ’40/’50’s as well as comic book heroes. It is filled with all that stilted dialogue found in those B-movie black and white films of the 40/50’s yet it is also a clever parody of the hero genre.
The press notes outlines the complex themes that emerge from Nevue’s smart tongue-in-cheek work:
“Brett Neveu’s Detective Partner Hero Villain introduces the audience to veteran Detective Bradley Manners (John Wilson), the reluctant police department liaison to The Fantastic Phenomenon (Sam Guinan-Nyhart), the city’s secretive superhero. As the story begins, the city is in chaos due to the appearance of a dangerous and deadly serial killer plaguing individuals wearing the popular cowled face of The Fantastic Phenomenon. The detective contacts The Fantastic Phenomenon for help, which sets the trusted, yet recently agitated, superhero’s world tilting toward serious soul searching. Meanwhile, the detective starts to have his own “crisis of faith” as he begins to see the flaws in The Fantastic Phenomenon and starts to realize his own shortcomings through conversations with his grizzled partner (Marc Rita). Attempting to drown his sorrows at a local shady bar, the detective is confronted by Supernova (Tim Parker), the city’s latest super villain, and most likely the horrible serial killer himself. Through a series of explosive and fascinating twists, the detective confronts both the hero and the villain, questioning their individual motives, as well as his own. As the detective fights to understand what it all means, will he discover secrets kept hidden, or will he learn that too much knowledge isn’t always a good thing.”
I’ll not reveal more so not to spoil this surprisingly satisfying show. It is a fast paced 70 minute show that contains a terrific performance by John Wilson as the tormented detective with a fun turn by Sam Guinan-Nyhart as the Hero. Once all the players have their lines and timing down, Detective Partner Hero Villain will emerge as a worthy off night show. Brett Nevue is a creative playwright whose work is quite varied and intriguing. This one is sneaks up on us and it deliverers in surprising ways. It is worth a look.
At Strawdog Theatre’s Hugen Hall, 3829 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 773-528-9696, www.strawdog.org, tickets $15, Sundays, Mondays & Tuesdays at 8 pm, running time is 70 minutes without intermission, through December 17, 2013