Villain, Interrupted

The very best shows always leave you either unsettled or with an inexplicable high that lasts until you fully process what you saw onstage. Villain, Interrupted is such a gem, one we can only hope will have future productions so that we can revisit the world and characters that the show so carefully and lovingly constructs.

The lack of unnecessary complexity and over-explanation is this show's greatest strength

Directed by Micha Mirto and written by KT Roberts, it's set in a world where powered and no-powered people coexist. Gina (Emma Richardson) narrates the story about her therapy work at a prison for powered people in the hopes of proving that they can be rehabilitated and released.

Roberts’ script is incredibly witty, with a dry humour that moves the action along at a comfortable tempo whilst also providing incredible depth to the main characters. It is a tad rough around the edges: there are a couple of confusing moments where perhaps time constraints rush the action. However, Villain, Interrupted's comic book aesthetic allows us to suspend our disbelief to the point where we don’t need in-depth explanations in order to enjoy the play. Every part of this show is perfectly placed in a jigsaw-like manner, bringing more life to the characters and managing to quite elegantly and simply adjust the tension as needed in a subtle, aesthetically pleasing manner. The two sides of the play are perhaps best exemplified in Bellekom’s puppet design; on one hand there are the comic strip like sound effects, location and character drawings that add to the existing elements of absurdity, but on the other, there are the stencils used in Kevin’s (Francesca Forristal) story, that are more realistic in their appearance, which combined with the soundwaves and shadows are incredibly chilling.

The cast bring the numerous zany characters to life with what can only be described as joy or relish; the script has just touches of these over the top moments that make most of the dialogue seem almost down to earth in comparison. This gives the impression that what we are actually seeing is a comic book being acted out onstage which makes the shift in tone all the more abrupt and chilling to a degree.

Richardson’s sunny optimism as Gina remains so constant that we cannot help but wonder how much we can trust her as a narrator, after all it is not every day that we meet a character who is just 'good'. In comparison to the other characters, Gina appears the most one-dimensional. Mostly because her constant positivity seems to be a little fake at times, so we cannot help but wonder if there is more to the character, especially since Roberts’ script has a few missed opportunities to develop some of the conflict that is hinted at. There is a quiet domesticity and caring in the relationship between Richardson and Robbie Bellekom’s characters; a mundane cuteness that starkly contrasts to the quiet menace that follows Kevin. In Bellekom’s Ink Lord we are introduced to an incredibly lovable character. There is a magnetic charisma attached to Bellekom's performance, so much so that it would be difficult to forget it anytime soon.

Everything just clicks, and the fact that Villain, Interrupted uses the subtlest of details and maneuvering to create such a large impact is particularly impressive. As well as toying with our expectations, the lack of unnecessary complexity and over-explanation is this show's greatest strength.

Reviews by Katerina Partolina Schwartz

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Since you’re here…

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The Blurb

For the last six months Gina’s worked as a therapist in a prison for super-villains, determined to turn every last one into a hero. This audacious fusion of comic-book energy, theatre, and shadow puppets is her story. Follow Gina as she plunges into the Powered Offenders Institute, and is forced to question everything she believes in. Her charges include King Cobra; a female drug-lord peddling hallucinogens, Lady Injustice; two college kids fused into one body, and Ink Lord; able to bring art to life, and angry enough to burn the world down. From Daddy issues (that therapy staple) to toxic masculinity, queerness, classism, and mental health, Gina grapples with problems she’s ill-equipped to face. Will they see the error of their ways? Or is the error Gina’s in thinking they’re redeemable? Join us for a comedy-drama exploring redemption, rehabilitation and the nature of evil (but funny)

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