You might expect a show called We Can Be Heroes to be a send-up of superhero films, but Second City’s new mainstage production is actually a celebration of minor, everyday acts of heroism ranging from giving advice to a bullied child to managing not to be a jackass at your friend’s wedding.
We Can Be Heroes does a fantastic job of mixing quick, well-written dialogue with over-the-top physical comedy. A fast, wordy sketch about a little boy who thinks a bearded drunk on the subway is Santa Claus is balanced by a manic, physical bit about a bat trapped inside a cottage—a bit that features Matrix fighting, a dance number, and a man-sized bat (played by Connor Thompson).
Allison Price and Kevin Vidal are both powerhouses when it comes to physical comedy. They not only pull off big moves in the bat sketch that make it stand out as one of the show’s highlights, but also manage to work not one but two dance numbers into a little over an hour of sketch comedy. Vidal also does a remarkably good job of playing a severed head that keeps trying to roll away.
While Price and Vidal are great at grand gestures, Thompson and Jan Caruana excel at creating characters. Caruana in particular manages to inhabit her roles, which is no small feat given that the average sketch is about four minutes long. She doesn’t seem like a comedian playing a part; you really believe, for example, that you’re watching the most disgruntled doctor ever give a prostate exam. Similarly, Thompson has a gift for being completely deadpan while saying totally ridiculous things. Nowhere is that more apparent than in a one-man sketch where he plays a blind lifeguard with a penchant for bragging.
Stacey McGunnigle, though, is the standout performer yet again. Now in her third mainstage performance, she seems to be getting better every time. Whether she’s listening to Fleetwood Mac and threatening to kill a man or playing a hilariously uninformed voter, her kinetic, high-energy style makes her the centre of attention whenever she takes the stage.
The only weak spots in the show are the musical numbers that open and close it, but even those aren’t bad—they just don’t really add anything. That forgivable sin aside, We Can Be Heroes is strong start to finish, and is absolutely worth the price of admission