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Open: 02/24/12- Close: 03/04/12 Big Plastic Heroes
Reviewed for By: Rachel Wohlander

Lynne Duddy ©2022  Slash Coleman

Big Plastic Heroes is a light-hearted one-man show that explores the wonder of childhood dreams, currently playing at Under St. Marks. Writer and Performer Slash Coleman is an engaging story-teller weaving humorous tales from the perspective of his quirky seven-year old self. It's a warm, intimate piece with surprisingly touching moments that is well worth catching during its limited run in the Frigid Festival.

Opening Performer Becca Bernard is the super-hero themed mime whose skillful physical comedy offers just enough audience participation to warm up the crowd for Coleman, who enters sporting an all-American Evel Knievel jumpsuit and cape. His style is casual and the language full of child-like whimsy as he recalls being a boy in 1976. Coleman's stories playfully expose his anticipation over his hero Knievel's stunts, excitement for the bicentennial, wide-eyed visions of his future as the next American Gladiator, his unconventional family and mostly, his nervous adoration of his third grade teacher, Mrs. Autumnbright. The story follows his strange stratagems to attract her affection. The meandering anecdotes travel to a hospital room where Evel Knievel is recovering from a stunt gone wrong, to bazaar backyards piled with tires and taxidermy, to dreamlands of magical beach balls and even the Moulin Rouge in its pre-war bohemian heyday. Coleman cleverly ties them all together. The awkward humor of a kid's crush on his teacher intermingles with poignant moments such as the story of his mother relegating any token of her Jewish identity to the basement closet after fleeing France during World War II.

  Slash Coleman

With the help of Director Jules Moorhouse, Coleman slips into various characters and voices within the broader framework of playing himself – a 40-something man looking back on a more innocent and un-ironically patriotic America where heroes exist. The idiosyncrasies of his characters make the experience delightfully personal and entertaining, especially the portrayal of his identical twin sisters' secret language and the family friend who talks very intelligently about absolutely nothing. Coleman's unpredictable associations bring poetry and wit to the performance, making everyday occurrences extraordinary, such as when he equates being bitten by a dog to eating sponge cake on the moon.

The language is at times very literary, especially when the stories slip into the realm of dreams or fantasies. It is clear that Coleman's strengths are in writing and story-telling. This makes for a different experience than watching a seamlessly trained actor. Some moments risk being slightly didactic, but even if unpolished, the show is often charmingly so. Coleman evokes a seven-year-old endearingly, and at times his anecdotes and impersonations had audience members in stitches.

Despite minimal set and lighting, Coleman captures the attention of the audience for the 60 minutes of the show. He has a knack for breaking the fourth wall to react to and engage with the audience. The Under St. Marks black box theater is an appropriately intimate setting for Coleman's poetic and dream-like sequences of childhood fantasy.

Ultimately, Big Plastic Heroes is a refreshingly joyful view of a child's world, discovering love, savoring hero worship and the thoughtful realization of just how far we will go to accomplish a cherished dream.

Under St. Marks : 94 St. Mark's Place