Since taking over the Theatre Artaud space in 2009, Z Space has presented and produced a wide spectrum of disciplines and narrative techniques. From rock operas to lyric operas, cabaret to Kathak, innovative touring companies to local playwrights, Z Space is a place one goes to experience outside-of-the-box theatricals.
This past weekend, I camped out at Z Space and its companion venue, Z Below, to experience its wide variety with two world premieres that are worlds apart: The Supers, by Sara Moore, and Retablos, by Word for Word.
A multi-dimensional, multi-media expedition, The Supers unfolds across a playfully conceptualized universe. Propelled by a cinematic score composed by Rob Reich, and accompanied by videos of colorful constellations designed by director Colin Johnson, a quintet of mostly non-verbal clowns hurtle through space in search of sanctuary. After losing one of their party—the presumptive hero, Jess, played by writer of the show and Director of the Clown Conservatory at Circus Center, Sara Moore—the remaining four land on Earth to start over.
A now-leaderless collective of outcasts, each has a signature source of power. Helena (Maureen McVerry), an older spinster in power reds, displays a penchant for torch songs. The deceptively sweet Oopsy (Kaylamay Paz Suarez) packs a powerful punch and totes a marshmallow-shooting rifle. The plaid-clad Charlie (Guilhem Milhau) generates electricity from his fingertips. And the fatigue-wearing Edgar (DeMarcello Funes) has traveled the universe, gathering experiences and hoarding oranges. Though they frequently react with skittish, fearful energy at the many obstacles they encounter on their journey, they manage to stick together, and stand up for themselves when it counts.
Their Earthly immigrant experience begins like so many: by crowding into a rundown tenement of cramped single-occupancy rooms (courtesy of Katie Whitcraft and Jacque Bugler) run by a suspicious curmudgeon in coveralls (Adam Roy). As they figure out their daily routines, they’re spied upon, threatened, and have their possessions stolen by the increasingly paranoid “Super” whose rage contorts his body in every direction. At times he appears to be made of convulsive silly-putty, his limbs appearing to elongate and contract with his acrimony. His unfortunate companion, Waldo (Joel Baker), does his best to keep his equilibrium under the Super’s erratic onslaughts, showing off his superlative ability to keep a straight face.