Hero Worship deals with comics as a coping mechanism and is the latest in a series of monologues by admired writer-performer Kenny Boyle. Cyberpunk clothing and a utility belt are instantly familiar from the comic Kick Ass as is our hero, a 21st century everyman working in a SUPERmarket. His main enemies are probably familiar to all of us and go by the names of anxiety, depression and uncertainty. Using imagination to escape the mundane is a central theme in hero Worship but it’s stressed, that the complexities of real life are what make us who we are and build our personalities. Boyle reiterates though out the performance that it’s everyday moral choices such as caring for an animal or falling in love that make us truly powerful.
Just like Batman and Superman our hero is an orphan and troubled by childhood loss. By becoming The Flash he suggests his imagination lets him run so fast, that death and pain become insignificant. Boyle uses spoken word filled with rhyming references to a vast comic universe to transcend reality, but this doesn’t stop him bringing us violently down to earth with a powerful description of a physical attack.
During the performance Boyle points to members of the audience and assigns them powers: these aren’t telekinesis or invisibility, but empathy and commonsense. Hero Worship consistently asserts that men in tights and robot fights can do wonders to bolster self-confidence and self-awareness.
Comics preserve the tradition of visual storytelling vital to humanity. More recently, they have become a literary platform that pushes traditional narrative boundaries by addressing a whole spectrum of physical and mental health issues, ranging from body shaming and feminism to LGBT rights. These days graphic novels have a lot to say. At the end of the performance when our hero is unmasked and the therapy is complete. He has escaped the escapism and been assured by his new found love that she didn’t need saving; just for him to be there, a partner in life’s daily fight.
To be continued…(LO)
Hero Worship is on at 13.30 at C venues – C (Venue 34) until August 29th. Wheelchair Access, Level Access -https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/hero-worship
Welcome to Bitch Planet - the comic that's reimagining feminism: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/mar/06/bitch-planet-comic-feminism
The Rise of Superhero Therapy - Comic Books as Psychological Treatment: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/17/the-rise-of-superhero-therapy-comic-books-as-psychological-treatment.html
The effect of comic books on the ideology of children: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/ort/11/3/540/
The visual magic of comics - Scott McCloud: https://www.ted.com/talks/scott_mccloud_on_comics?language=en