Shazaam! Kapow! Galactic Girl, the last great super hero on Earth enters the telephone booth – no, not to change into her super hero costume and fight villainy for the day – but to pump her breast milk to feed her newborn infant son.
Thus begins playwright Lila Rose Kaplan’s feminist one-act comedy about motherhood and villainy, in her superhero farce, “The Villains’ Supper Club,” a satire on comic book super heroes, that appeared at Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) through May 20.
The story is silly, the characters, sillier, and the fun, funnier, especially with this agile, energetic cast, directed by multi-talented MRT Artistic Director Sean Daniels. Angie Jepson’s fight choreography and the cast’s physicality were exciting to see. And you knew, watching their shenanigans, they were having as much fun on stage as we theatergoers are.
In the title role, Kristen Mendelkoch slammed, kapowed, pumped, and jumped her way across stage, battling The Little Boss (Maggie Carr), who was avenging the death of her father by Galactic Girl’s hands.
Our heroine also slammed and bammed The Flame (Lorene Chesley), The Boss’ lover and partner in crime, who is also Galactic Girl’s boss, Ms. Caliente, in her day job as a news reporter. These villains’ henchmen included: Lee the Leopard, (John Gregorio), the Boss’ brother, with his own secret history with Galactic Girl; Damian the Dart (Jacob Sherburne),a not-overly-villainous Brit; and Fibian the Frog (Barlow Anderson). The ensemble members played multiple cameo roles, their rapid changes occurring at dizzying rates.
Apollo Mark Weaver’s set was a hoot, too, designed like a 3-D comic book cutout, its jagged center a large entranceway for Galactic Girl’s appearance. The background panels on both sides had drawings of tilted skyscrapers and images of our heroine’s face emblazoned above. Arthur Oliver’s costumes were snazzy, too.
The classic comic-book super hero telephone booth was there, too, where Galactic Girl pumped her breast milk, called her pediatrician, and checked in with her mother or baby-sitter. It was her first day back from maternity leave, and she was tired, but ready, to assume her super powers and keep the planet safe.
Armed with Brian Lilienthal’s arsenal of lights and David Remedios’ accompanying sound effects, the rat-a-tat action kept theatergoers’ attention glued to the stage.
Kaplan’s inspiration for Galactic Girl sprang from when she was a first-time mother. “I wanted to write a comedy about what it’s like to keep a brand new little person alive on no sleep, while also going back to work,” she said. While traveling the country to several of her productions, Kaplan had to pump her milk, tote her baby, and call the pediatrician several times.
“I learned very quickly that new moms are true super heroes,” she added.”My plays shine light on the stories we don’t tell about women… ‘The Villains Supper Club’ is a comic love letter to all the new moms out there.”