EDINBURGH 2018 - BWW Review: HENCHMEN, Sweet Grassmarket
It's Mike and Billy's first day on their new job - working as henchmen to supervillain Rapture.
Flying in the face of all henchmen tropes, Mike manages to accidentally kill caped do-gooder Captain Hero, and finds himself inducted into the ranks of the supervillains. Meanwhile, his old boss Rapture seeks revenge by teaming up with a new superhero, being changed forever by the power of friendship along the way.
With the increasingly prominent place of superhero media in popular culture, plenty of ripe material exists for a show to comically deconstruct cliches of the genre, such as goons that are unable to hit the broad side of a barn, or how villains treat their underlings.
Unfortunately, this production from Dundee student group LIP Theatre Company is more reliant on crass, forced innuendo than humour derived from the genre, resulting in a show that quickly becomes tiresome.
The production tries to aim for a cinematic feel, with plenty of short scenes, but the slow pacing means that scenes simply feel unresolved, rather than cutting between tense, action-packed narratives. The cast attack the play with plenty of energy and volume, but are not able to do much with the unfunny dialogue or underdeveloped characters.
There are a lot of staging ideas that suggest commendable experimentation, including use of several different kinds of puppetry and an inventive chase scene. Sadly, though, the funniest moments in the show came in the form of heckles.
Judging by the gushing response of several audience members being met with hugs from performers at the end, Henchmen gave the impression of something dreamed up over several drinks and performed in a rush for indulgent family and friends, but unfortunately it is not up to the standard of a paid performance at an international arts festival.
Henchmen has finished its run.