JOYCE MCMILLAN on HERO WORSHIP at Perth Concert Hall, for The Scotsman 16.3.15.
3 stars ***
PERCHED RIGHT on the border between reflective 65-minute stand-up set and full-blooded solo theatre, Hero Worship is the latest in a series of monologues by acclaimed young writer-performer Kenny Boyle, set to play the Glasgow Comedy Festival tonight, after a brief tour. Our hero is a 21st century everyman in his early 20’s, frightened by his own ordinariness, and traumatised by the childhood loss of his mother, but with a mind full of superhero imagery from comics and films – during the show he refers to Spiderman, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Thor, Batman, Iron Man, and half a dozen more.
If an encyclopaedic knowledge of superhero literature is helpful in picking up every nuance of Boyle’s script, though, anyone with half a heart can appreciate the intense poetry of his hero’s rooftop attempts to escape the pain of every day life, and his burgeoning relationships both with an insistent little puppy called Found, and with a magical girl for whom he has, after all, some super-powers of his own.
The play finally indulges in too many endings, sliding towards sentimental homespun philosophy; and Boyle needs a demanding director to stop him swallowing some of his best lines, and to bring his delivery right up to the thrilling standard of his best writing. Despite the odd lost phrase, though, Boyle’s presence is as charismatic and memorable as his storytelling imagery; and he inhabits the inner world of generation superhero with a creative passion and humanity that’s hard to resist, and even harder to forget.
At Webster’s Theatre, Glasgow, tonight, and Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock, 21st March.