Myles: The HypoAllergenic SuperHero (And His SuperHero Friends)
nytheatre.com review by Chris Harcum
August 14, 2007
Bridget Ryan and Dave Horak bring a delightful, high-energy superhero tale for kids to the Cherry Lane Studio. Comic book fans will like how they playfully tell Myles the Hypo-Allergenic Superhero's creation story. Kids and parents will enjoy a marvelously simple piece of theatre as a remedy for all the bombastic junk offered on TV and in movies.
Everything starts off fun at school. David and Molly play leap-frog at recess before they swap sandwiches. Uh-oh. David has never had a seafood and crab sandwich before today. He begins to feel like he is "puffing and swimming in a sea of goo." Luckily for David, Myles is on the lookout!
We flash back to when Myles Humperdink III first had an allergic reaction to a peanut butter cookie and go though other of his allergic experiences. Some force him into wearing a plastic bubble suit. One day, Superdude gives Myles the tools and cool superhero suit he needs to fight the battle against allergies.
Bridget Ryan is the puppeteer for the Molly and Myles characters. She plays them without hiding behind any masking and she sports kneepads that look like they are made of Bat armor. The puppets have full bodies and she frequently uses a hand stick to give the puppets a wide range of gestures. There are times when she becomes invisible while operating the puppets, even though she is in full view. Also, she does a top-notch job of having the puppets do things that can only be done with puppets, like spinning in circles, without ever calling attention to the fact that she is a puppeteer. Myles goes through more emotions than I have ever seen a puppet have, including the gang in Avenue Q. His imaginary meltdown caused by pollen during a game of catch with his Dad is glorious. It's like watching Laurence Olivier, only it's a puppet. Apparently, Bridget Ryan learned her craft from her mother, a professional actor and puppeteer. Way to go, Mom! You must be proud.
Dave Horak plays all the other characters without puppets. His brilliant face articulation as David in the beginning leaves no need for any accessories. He gives life to Myles's mom, dad, and Superdude but his best performance is in the role of Emer, the girl who Myles really likes. The awkward and nervous dance of pure childhood joy Emer and Myles have is completely charming. Underneath it is the suspense created from wondering whether Myles would have another "ooey, gooey waterfall" and ruin this precious moment. Dave Horak gives a great deal of humanity to all his characters at the same time he is quite silly. That is a rare gift.
We learn with Myles about the "three A's" of allergies: avoidance, awareness, and action. The shame young audience members might have from real-life allergies is hopefully taken away by watching this. Like Myles, they should no longer feel like the "King of the Freaks".
Hipsters, Xers, and Tweeners will like the Schoolhouse Rock/After School Special feel to this show. With the right spin, this could spawn a few sequels and quite a following. The important test, however, was passed at the opening performance: the kids in the audience stayed engaged. That this dynamic performance duo did this with such ease is incredible. See this one before Myles flies back to Edmonton!