Thomas Burns Scully
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Three weeks ago I went to the PIT and got introduced to ‘Kapow-i GoGo’, a five-hour long anime-inspired theatre-binge. I couldn’t stay for the whole thing, but I adored everything that I saw and swore that I would return to see the rest. In the mean time I have been telling anyone who will listen about how they should go and see it, how much they will laugh, and how they will fall in love with this beautiful, mad theatre piece. I’m now going to do some more of that.
You can find my original review here: http://www.onstageblog.com/reviews/2015/5/27/review-kapow-i-gogo-at-the-pit-pure-saturday-morning-fun
From now on, I’m going to assume that you’ve read that first review. I want to write more about this show, and I see no need to re-tread old ground. You can summarize that review very quickly by reading the quote of mine that is now on some of Team Kapow-i’s promo material “I can’t think of single reason why you shouldn’t go and see ‘Kapow-i GoGo’”. But now I want to talk a bit more in depth about the show, and cover some things I didn’t before. As well as promote the crap out of this thing. I will also do my upmost to keep away from spoilers.
Okay, so, things I want to talk about from ‘Kapow-i’ that I didn’t cover last time. First off, it’s gay. And it is gay in a very modern and exciting way, in that it just is. Kapow-i GoGo falls in love with another girl not long in to the play, and she doesn’t have a big inner debate about whether or not she’s a lesbian, she doesn’t have a dramatic coming out, she just falls in love with a girl and goes with it. And none of the other characters question it either. It is treated as a completely unselfconscious, normal event. Kapow-i GoGo is a protagonist who is gay, who isn’t exclusively defined by that one aspect of her life. The play doesn’t make a big deal out of it. And also doesn’t make a big deal out of not making a big deal out of it. Like certain sit-coms I could name. And that’s really cool to see. Now, I’d like to stress, I’m not decrying the many, many fantastic works out there that have dealt with homosexuality in a head-strong, confrontational, “We’re here and we’re queer!” kind of way. They are excellent in their own right, and are a vital part of the continued struggle of LBGTQ individuals to gain acceptance in a world that often treats them like scum. But what we see in ‘Kapow-i’ is a depiction of a world that already has that acceptance. Which is what we’re going for, right? A world where people don’t question your sexuality, or ask if it’s just a phase, or persecute you for it. It’s also a world where space demons might kill you for no reason whatsoever. But there’s no homophobia, and that’s nice.
Second: this is a five hour play. And it doesn’t feel that long. It feels substantial, yes, epic in terms of story and scope, but it doesn’t drag for a second. I’ve been trying to decide why that is. A lot of credit has to go to the cast. They keep the energy up, demonstrating artistic commitment worthy of a 1920s dance marathon. But that’s not all of it. As much credit has to go to the structuring of the piece. A meme circled recently that compared the unwillingness of a Netflix viewer to watch a two-hour movie, to the relative ease with which a Netflix viewer would binge-watch a TV series for four-hours straight. I have a distinct feeling that there’s something deeper in this. I remember being told about a study a while back which said that the human brain can only naturally focus on a task properly for approximately 20-30 minutes, after which it needs a break. A lot of criticism gets levied at me and my generation for having short attention spans, but what if that’s actually how our brains operated all along? If so, then ‘Kapow-i GoGo’, and all 30 minute episodic TV series, are perfectly structured around how are brains work. As such, they are easy to watch, and don’t feel like a slog to get through. I mean, it helps a lot if what you’re watching is well-written, entertaining and brilliant, but structure must enter in to it at some point.
Third: I, and a lot of other reviewers, have raved about how funny the show is. And it is. Hysterically so. Fantastically observed, sharply written, and delivered in an orgy of anime high-camp and fun. It could go toe-to-toe, gag-for-gag with the funniest shows on Broadway. That’s not hyperbole. But I know that I, for one, haven’t given it enough credit for having heart, and the ability to make you genuinely and unashamedly feel something. These characters make you laugh so much, you love them. Unreservedly. So when the play takes occasion to seriously hurt them, or kill them, you feel it. The play is so light and innocent a lot of the time, it makes it matter all that much more when it decides to go the other way. The actors give it their all too, Madeleine Bundy is particularly good at adding gravitas to a moment, right before delivering yet another line of abject silliness. Hidden underneath all the anime in-jokes is a moving story about growing up, love, parenthood and belief. So yes, this show is jaw-achingly funny, but it has a dramatic kick worthy of the world’s greatest fighter.
I’m running out of ways to say that you must go and see Kapow-i GoGo. I haven’t had this much fun at the theatre in ages. This is a show that has its own complimentary cereal bar. That gives out candy. That hands out limited edition ‘Kapow-i GoGo’ Trading Cards. (I’ve got seven). That receives fan-art. I’ve never heard of a theatre show getting fan art before. This is a genuine sensation, a thing that is happening, possibly a revolution. Get in now so that you can criticize them for selling out later, so that you can say “I saw it when…” At the risk of sounding like Shia LaBeouf: just do it. Go see ‘Kapow-i GoGo’. Thank me later.
The next show of Kapow-i GoGo will be in August. Follow Team Kapow-i on Twitter and Facebook for updates as to when tickets will go on sale.