In a theatre festival with a sometimes overwhelming number of shows, there’s only one show where you’ll see actors flipping off walls, a real-life Street Fighter battle, and show-downs with the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
Tribe of Fools’ Antihero, playing in the Painted Bride Art Center, is a raucous comedy that boasts an impressive combination of razor-shop dialogue, feats of virtuosic physicality, and some in-your-face truth laying down. Directed by Terry Brennan and written by Brennan, Nick Mazzuca, and Peter Smith,
Antihero revolves around the story of two white male nerds: Parker Peters (Kyle Yackoksi), a rule-loving Superman fan with a secret identity and the Man Without a Name (Smith), a batman idolizer dead set on carrying out a vigilante campaign against the PPA. Parker and his ideological opponent face off in their favorite comic store, watched by the store manager (Zachary Chiero) and Simone (Colleen Hughes) – a graduate student writing her thesis on “the contemporary regressive post-adult male.”
The script moves at a fast clip, Mike Cosenza’s fight choreography is as hilarious as Brennan and Co.’s script, and the athletic ensemble (filled out by Tara Demmy, Leah Holleran, and Joseph Ahmed) hit consistent laughs. Yet Antihero isn’t all fun and games. The first scene sets the comic store crew against a serious backdrop: the violent police killing of a suspected shoplifter.
In between the jokes, Antihero tackles racism, sexism, toxic masculinity, and institutional corruption. It’s an important choice to bring up and make room for such topics, but sometimes there is a sense that these myriad issues are being treated too lightly. Tribe of Fools states that they make, “complicated and difficult themes accessible and identifiable to the audience,” but in Antihero they also run the risk of depicting the issues themselves as something that can or should be laughed at.
Ultimately, Antihero, with its stellar comedic performances and an unexpectedly intense and moving ending, is never a dull ride. It’s well worth braving your own run in with the PPA to go see.
Running Time: Approximately 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Antihero plays September 12-23, 2016 at The 2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival performing at the Painted Bride Art Center – 4th and Vine Streets, in Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the box office at (215) 413 1318, or purchase them online.