Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company
MEN OF STEEL
By QUI NGUYEN
Center Stage, NY, 48 W. 21 St., 4th Floor
March 15 through April 8, 2007
Directed by ROBERT ROSS PARKER
Fight Direction by MARIUS HANFORD
Scenic & Lighting Design NICK FRANCONE
Costume Design JESSICA WEGENER
Sound Design PATRICK SHEARER
Press Representative JIM BALDASSARE
Noshir Dalal – Burnout, Lukas, Daddy
Sharon Eisman – Helen Harper, Melinda
Jason Liebman – Jason Prince aka Captain Justice
Tom Myers – Hurt, Anderson, Bryant
Melissa Paladino – Libery Lady, Camille, Mommy
Jeremy Sarver – Andy aka Hooded Menace, King, Joe Dickens, Warden
Paco Tolson – The Mole, Damon, Christian
Temar Underwood – Malcolm aka Maelstrom, Marcus, Reynolds
The Vampire Cowboys are back with a caped crusader pop-culture vehicle aptly entitled MEN OF STEEL. Absent the company’s signature shadowy, scene-shifting vampire cowboy showdowns, this most recent offering has plenty of furious fight scenes, and B movie plot twists. Played in live action and featuring a clever Lego action film interlude, the play is broken up into a prologue and four chapters across 2 acts, and introduces the familiar and the highly unlikely in superheroes and superpowers.
MEN OF STEEL opens with patriotic-clad Lady Liberty and Captain Justice doing battle. Quick flashback, and Chapter One introduces Malcolm, Jason and Andy, the classmates who would one day become Maelstrom, Captain Justice and a criminal known as the Hooded Menace. In Chapter Two, boys from the hood don capes and tights in their own attempt to fight crime, in Chapter Three, a boy named Bryant grows into a drag queen who can’t feel pain, and in Chapter Four all of our superheroes meet behind bars in a place called Steel City. Along the way, each discovers the superpower within them, and sees their share of violence.
Some of the scenes drift into unexpectedly political territory. The character of Malcolm/Maelstrom, for instance, derides his friend for joining the military to go and help people overseas when there are plenty of his own people to help in hometown, Chicago. In Chapter Two, set in Brooklyn, locals Damon and Lukas try to become local crime fighters because Captain Justice and Lady Liberty are only in saving people in Manhattan, where most of the while people are. Later in the same section of the program, Damon’s sister, Camille, rails against the superheroes for always saving people in the city or overseas while simultaneously driving crime to the outer boroughs and ignoring them. Interestingly, the same actress plays Liberty Lady and Camille. Not quite the usual Vampire Cowboy fare, and delivered in a preachy way, but not undermining enough to draw from the overall enjoyment of MEN OF STEEL.
As expected, MEN OF STEEL delivers some expertly directed and executed fight sequences tinged with a sense of humor. The cast use their muscle, and let it show, and isn’t that what fighting crime is all about? Don’t go for the message, but do go for the fun and the visual spectacle, and you will not be disappointed.
- Kessa De Santis -