We Might Be Heroes Shows We’re All Heroes

heroesPotential alien invasion is Hollywood’s forte, but EPIC Theatre’s Kevin Broccoli has adapted the notion for the stage in his sixth mammoth monologue marathon, We Might Be Heroes, running through July 26 at their 50 Rolfe Square location. At this point, there are very few actors in the region who haven’t tackled one of Broccoli’s tailored monologues, most of which have been custom written for these sprawling, multi-evening themed pieces involving literally hundreds of actors. This time around, he’s pushed the envelope with over 500 performers exploring the notion of impending doom from the skies and the government search for those “special” individuals who may possess some power, some extraordinary ability that could potentially be exploited in the effort to save the planet from annihilation.

Of course, we don’t ever see any aliens and Heroes is hardly a sci-fi romp. Like most of Broccoli’s work, the struggles are rarely external, with each short piece exploring the nature of humanity as desperation begins to creep in around the edges. Some simply know they are superheroes and their concern is how people will react to the necessity of them being naked while they battle (the comics and movies always leave out the possibility of gargantuan genitalia when a hero morphs into monster form). Others are far more reluctant or not sure if their abilities are even useful (the ability to *slightly* levitate, for instance). Some of these pieces are monologues, others are small scenes, but all have one thing in common – the notion of being a hero is sometimes in the small things we do every day and superpowers do not a hero make. As Broccoli states, it’s about people with “great potential and potential greatness.”

Obviously, no two nights of We Might Be Heroes is the same, with different actors and different pieces at each performance. Some pieces do repeat, however, so seeing Lynne Collinson perform a sweetly sentimental scene with her real-life granddaughters is worth trying to find. Some performances are one-offs, such as a particularly well-executed variation on the theme featuring Andrew Conley as a young man off to sign up for the war, with only a vague idea of his special ability to not die – as long as he isn’t killed first. He is met by a young woman, portrayed by Jeana Ariel Garcia, who has the ability to know exactly when someone *will* die. It’s a simple scene, but it covers a lot of philosophical ground in that slacker way that imparts some deeper thoughts without sounding ponderous or pretentious.

Broccoli is careful to order each evening’s actors in order to give some kind of chronological order to the shifting moments of focus. However, the first evening ended with Geoff White inviting us into his world, a la Mr. Rogers and summing up the themes of the evening. It is the piece slated to end every performance as a way to break the walls down for a little while and engage the audience directly. It’s a schmaltzy moment, but a nice cap to a stretch of performances that, on opening night, varied in execution and success. However (and Broccoli states this explicitly), if something doesn’t quite work or excite, there’s always the next one, which may bowl you over. It’s not as patchy as it sounds and Heroes certainly satisfies on the level it’s meant to. The theme is fun and interesting and the recurring ideas of inner strength and the ability of mankind to step up to the plate in times of crisis is worth seeing across multiple nights, if, for no other reason, than to witness such a magnificent collection of actors in the same place. The notion that it doesn’t take an alien invasion (or it shouldn’t) to make a hero is both sound and entertaining. We Might Be Heroes shows us all of the myriad ways that heroism is possible, with or without uniforms, or even clothes.

EPIC Theatre Company presents We Might Be Heroes, written and Directed by Kevin Broccoli. 
Performances: July 17, 18, 24 and 25 @ 8pm, and July 26 @ 7pm. All performances at the Artists Exchange, located at 50 Rolfe Square, Cranston. For tickets go to artists-exchange.org/epictheatrecompany.html or call 401-490-9475.

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