The Plank Panel goes kid cosmic

Kid Cosmic!

The Panel:
Alison Broverman is a playwright and arts reporter and a superhero in her mind.
M. John Kennedy is an actor, writer and teacher, often mistaken for his secret identity.

The Play:
Kid Cosmic, a multimedia superhero musical about a dude in a coma.

Alison: For something as awesome-sounding as a "multimedia comic book musical" (called KID COSMIC, of all things!), this show was surprisingly dull. It seemed stuck between camp and earnestness, without going far enough in either direction to be either entertaining or particularly meaningful. So I was disappointed - I had hoped Kid Cosmic would be balls-out ridiculous. It had a few elements that came close: I loved the trio of aliens, with their gorgeous green make-up and the lights in their turbans that turned red when they became evil. There was some nice music (though the band was way too loud), and the performers all had lovely voices. The design idea of illustrating a musical with a comic book backdrop is a cool one, even though the actual designs weren't my cup of tea. But overall, I found it confusing and kind of pointless.

M.John: Maybe it is because I am a science fiction and comic kind of guy or perhaps because I love surreal stuff where you go into your mind for a while, but I didn't find the show confusing at all. Kid is in a fire, goes into a coma, the rest is fantasy to avoid his powerless reality. I would like to have seen some more moments where reality bled into the fantasy. I think the only time that happened (other than the "taking the helmet off" stuff) was the recorded voices of "we're losing him" of doctors/nurses in tandem with the alien's "we're losing him". More stuff like that would have made it more interesting for me, but also probably more complicated. Some ideas: the aliens wearing latex gloves, the alien robes looking more like scrubs, the space ship looking more like a hospital in color or design, perhaps a few moments when Amber (the girlfriend) is injured and maybe some moments of Kid Cosmic having difficulty breathing (that whole smoke inhalation thing).

I agree that in the campier moments the show could have gone further. There is nothing wrong with going for those extremes of silliness when you are ultimately going to pull it back to the dead girlfriend. More broad humour would have been nice. As it was, most of the visual gags were in the (not very strong) comic drawings. I would love to have seen some foam-rubber aliens. If it is a kids’ fantasy, make it fantastical!

Also, Justin Bott has a good voice but he does look like a kid. That was thing I had the hardest time getting past. I thought Jess Abramovitch brought some nice heart to the piece in her tender moments with Casey and I also liked the aliens. I enjoyed the two lady aliens (Amy Connoly and Emily Wall) but there was something about James Quigley that especially made me believe him as an alien.

Hmm, maybe I'm just too much of a musical theatre lover and not enough a sci-fi lover to enjoy this show. I was also expecting something wackier and more satirical. So my dislike is partly disappointment from misguided expectations, disappointment that nothing in this show went far enough, especially when the premise is so promising. Now that you've explained it to me, M.John, the actual plot seems very straightforward, so why didn't I pick up on it during the show? If I may flatter myself for a moment, I'm not a stupid girl. The production would have been much stronger if the dichotomy between his comatose fantasy life and his hospital room reality had been more strongly underscored. Remember that episode of Buffy where she's injected by some crazy lizard demon venom and wakes up in a mental hospital and you don't know what's real and what's her delusion?

Kid Cosmic should have been more like that.

M. John:
Or the two episodes of House M.D. where we go into House's head and it is unclear what is real and what is delusion. (Kudos on the Buffy reference.) I agree, if there are two realities, there needs to be at least some more confusion about which is which. (And for the record, you are brilliant.)

I did not think it was pointless and I enjoyed it. I think this space, super-hero opera would be better suited to a B-Movie. Imagine the wonder of Kid Cosmic flying on crappy harness through a backdrop of a galaxy of stars. Imagine the exterior establishing shots of the cardboard spaceship. Imagine the foam-rubber aliens he could fight! Maybe I just like old, poorly made science fiction films too much to be objective but I am not ready to give up on the possibility of this idea working.

Kid Cosmic by Daniel Cummings; Directed by Melissa Major; Presented by Cheshire Unicorn; Featuring Justin Bott, Amy Connolly, Jess Abramovitch, James Quigly, Emily Wall. Part of the 2008 SummerWorks Festival there are no more performance but if you’re curious get your cosmic self here for more info.

By Alison Broverman and M John Kennedy