I’m not a morning person at the best of times. So it takes something really special to get me excited at 10.30 in the morning. Thankfully, Superhero Snail Boy is just that thing.
I loved this show unreservedly. The set is elegantly simple but superbly well designed; the theatrical effects wonderfully conceived and the use of the projector, especially at the end of the show, allowed moments of real surprising beauty. The story - the sensitive approach to the issues mixed with charming ideas such as a cosmic snail carrying sleepless children through the night - is fantastic.
The show’s real asset, though, was its performers, all of whom were excellent in their roles. Henry Regan as Inari combines just the right amount of excited childish energy and suppressed neuroses to play a boy who wants the superpower all children dream of, but for a far more complex reason. The way his movement subtly shifted from childish horseplay to a manic desperate fleeing was incredibly affecting and a real display of his skill as a performer.
Writer and performer Elizabeth Muncey was simply superb, shifting chameleon-like between roles with little more than a hair tie and a change of skirt. Whether it’s the barely-contained panic of Tillie or the off-kilter comforting care of Mrs Dale, each of these characters was spellbinding, gluing your attention to the stage. The scenes between her and Regan were a particular treasure, either as the two damaged children finding solace in each other or as the gently practical counsellor slowly gaining her charge’s trust.
And Kevin Varty. The number of times I’ve seen you schlepping up and down the Mile and George IV Bridge in full snail regalia is worth recognition at the very least; but to also turn in such sweet, grounding performances as both father and snail is excellent.
Even Ross Stanley, whose two relatively-minor roles mean he spends most of his time shifting scenery and props, managed to be amusing and engaging throughout. His skill in breaking the fourth wall means results in the most amusing scene changes I have ever seen.
I’m just astonished by how much I enjoyed this play. The tone was bang on, confronting sadness but never letting itself be dragged down. It acknowledged the problems people - adults or children - can have; the invisible internal breaks that make us secretly fragile. Then it reassured us that it’s OK, it’s just a part of life and one that can be overcome with a little help. Sweet, profound, superb.