Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spirits to Enforce, Capital T Theatre at FronteraFest LF, January 19-30 and February 10 - 12

Jay Fraley in Spirits to Enforce, Capital T Theatre

With 12 superheroes on stage, who ya gonna call? I picked over the suite of portraits at Capital T Theatre's website and I was seriously tempted by blonde Jenny Gravenstein as The Page with the come-hither eyes, particularly since Capital T is using her for one of its promo posters.

That would be a sexist indulgence in fantasy, though, so I settled on Austin newcomer Jay Fraley, who mans the central slot at the phone bank as Emory (secret identity: Ariel; yes, that Ariel, and a hint as to just why these impoverished superheroes, victorious so recently against Dr. Cannibal and his hoardes, are trying to raise donations so that they can put on a theatrical production of The Tempest).

Besides, Fraley has more than a passing resemblance to playwright Mickle Maher of Chicago's Theatre Oobleck. And when the super-rubber hits the road, Ariel's performance in the theatre before a crowd including Dr. Cannibal as chief theatre critic is a self-confessed disaster. Judging from the rest of this speedy, hectic, amusing play, that's just the sort of joke that Maher would play on himself.

Capital T's first-time director Gary Jaffe puts all superheroes on stage, all the time. They hardly move from their stations at the telethon table, except for LaTasha Stephens as The Bad Map, but the psychic energy sizzles. Jaffe has assembled a cast that is its own microcosm of valiant Austin actor-heroes, all of them in their 20's and 30's, most of them familiar and welcome to theatre junkies. They mirror pretty well the very demographic that Capital T has courted so successfully over the past couple of years: energetic folk who are smart, self-referential, creative and a touch arrogant.

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