"Fast, funny, creative cartoon caper."
by Janet Locke on 10/05/10

Who needs super-heroes? Well, we all do at the moment but none more so than an artist who has been commissioned to prepare a cartoon strip for a company who doesn't want his usual oeuvre of super heroes with super powers and wants the company name 'Haverstock Spa' to be worked into the script. The artist with his frenetic, creative energy is played with terrific verve by Benjamin Kissel.

Deprived of his beloved heroes and cartoon style he allows his six-pack-toting muscular hero and appealing flying girlfriend, Fille, to be stripped of their powers and interact within the script with the company personnel off on a firm's bonding weekend at the 'Haverstock Spa'. The super hero is wonderfully played by Timothy O'Hara who also doubles as the oafish husband of a Haverstock Spa employee. Ewa Jaworski as the coquettish Fille also plays Sam an employee heading for complications with her boss.

Forward to a wonderful romp with a clever ensemble cast all of whom play two parts within the cartoon as employees and toned-down super heroes influenced by, and influencing, their suffering cartoonist. Sounds complicated? It is but it works wonderfully well thanks to an intelligent script by Sarah Henley which subtly brings in relationship problems normally expected in such a work situation. Sophie Michaels is delightful as the shy girl and the tarty Tanya; so too is Charles Reston as the office lech, Dean, and the jazz loving Mark. Other characters appear to hang limply at the side of the stage waiting for the cartoonist to use them.

The director, Gillian Foley, has used differing accents for the character changes thus giving the actors scope for their interpretations. Kane Sharpe as Sean and Alex neatly switches from smug managerial-speak to a transatlantic twang while Ciara Pouncett as Lisa and Julia is equally efficient. The minimal set designed by Bryony Rumble allows the cartoon action to take place within a drawn area and works well.

Put them all together with the action stopping and starting as the cartoonist becomes ever more frantic and creatively blocked and you have an entertaining evening.

The cartoonist finally snaps and decides he is only happy using his original style - hey presto, super-hero gets his muscles back and Fille her wings. The action turns to POW, BAM cartoon violence with the characters swinging at each other with attendant slapstick. Knowing that the cast have spent a great deal of time improvising adds to the appreciation of their skills and contributes enormously to the finished play.

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