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Heroes

Theatre Review by Matthew Murray

If you always thought there were no such things as super heroes...

Well, you're right. And the first people to agree with you would be Ray and Kenneth, the heroes at the center of Jonathan Brady's new play, Heroes, now at the Midtown International Theatre Festival.

Peter Postiglione and Mike Doyle play Ray and Kenneth, two young ("almost thirty") single men in New York trying to find the meaning of life and having a hard time of it. Ray was recently fired and dumped by his girlfriend, while Kenneth is trapped in a meaningless job with a meaningless social life. With few avenues left to explore, they do the natural thing: Dress up in tights and go out into the streets to fight crime.

Well, sort of. Though Brady's script, always offbeat and frequently very funny, does find Ray and Kenneth battling the infamous SoHo Strangler, their fiercest battles are with themselves and their own limitations. The real struggle is internal, with the two men trying to make up for what has too long been lacking in their lives.

It's a good message, and one humorously presented. Still, the show is unaffecting as much more than comedy, as it possesses relatively little heart. You may like Ray and Kenneth and enjoy their antics, but it's difficult to love them.

Most of the time, though, Postiglione and Doyle make you forget all about that. Their wacky relationship with each other, and their unique approaches to crime fighting keep the laughs coming full-tilt almost throughout. They propel the story ruthlessly forward, capable of finding every bit of comedy imaginable in a martial arts lesson, or even just sitting reading a book.

Though the scene changes disrupt the flow of an otherwise fast-paced romp, Mark Steven Robinson's direction is as heady as the comedy and as colorful as the costumes. Robinson's one mistake is in not letting certain moments linger long enough to make a more significant impression. When Ray and Kenneth, after being assaulted in a bar, turn around an accomplish the impossible (in a dazzlingly staged sequence by James Riemer), the moment isn't triumphant, but rather over too soon.

Janine Barris plays the daffy would-be fish farmer Kate, the first person Ray and Kenneth rescue from the SoHo Strangler, and gives an appealing, lower-key performance to complement Postiglione and Doyle. Though the other actors in the ensemble have much less to do, just about each is funny and memorable in his or her own way in creating the fabric of a New York that is just enough unlike ours to allow super heroes to exist.

The minor problems - some stilted dialogue, almost an excess of supreme silliness - can't keep Heroes from being an enjoyable outing celebrating the ordinary person and his ability to make extraordinary things happen.

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Heroes
As part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival
Raw Space, 555 West 42nd Street
Through August 4
Running Time: 75 minutes with no intermission
Schedule and Tickets: Ticket Central (212) 279-4200