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By Lucy Spencer
A superhero pierced with blades meets a lonely teenage boy with a girl's name who's stuck in his bedroom. What you get is The Adventures of Wound Man & Shirley at Ipswich's Pulse Fringe Festival.
Shirley is a teenager and a loner who's trying to come to terms with various events in his life. These include his brother's shrinking trumpet, his obsession with a cross country running school mate and being a boy with a girl's name - although the last one never stopped Big Daddy or John Wayne.
In his misery he happens to look out of his bedroom window (the bedroom covered with stars that may or may not glow when he's not there) and sees Wound Man, a superhero, arrive in the house a few doors down.
Wound Man is no ordinary superhero. For a start he wears nothing but a silver thong and is pierced nearly all over by a variety of weaponry.
'You look how I feel' is basically Wound Man's superhero power, but we discover rather poignantly that he also has the power of empathy. He also just happens to have a vacancy for a sidekick which Shirley fills all too readily, but thanks to the Neighbourhood Watch busybody Reg Parsley, his role is short lived.
Chris Goode has written this 75 minute lyrical story for Queer Up North and has been touring the country with it. This one-man play, acted by the playwright, is a cross between Jackanory and kitchen sink drama, or should I say, attic bedroom.
Chris is an excellent storyteller who finds the exact words to fill the audience with a kind of melancholic nostalgia and then delight and amuse them with a witty turn of phrase. He also acts out the different characters with aplomb and consummate professionalism.
The odd lapse in concentration was brilliantly glossed over and the audience was on his side all the way.
The set is cleverly set within a 'comic' and while it remains at all times Shirley's bedroom, Goode is able to transport us from here to the school changing rooms, to a blazing inferno and to an airport no less – such is his talent as a raconteur and actor.
The soundtrack is at times rather too loud, and try as I might to find meaning in the songs played I could not. Perhaps they were just the songs on Shirley's playlist or indeed, Goode's playlist.
Wound Man & Shirley is a play about coming of age. Wound Man has a picture of a dead young actor on his fridge. We were never told who this was, but I think it was probably River Phoenix, the star of My Own Private Idaho and Stand By Me, who died of a drug overdose in 1993.
My thinking is that this one man play is more autobiographical than Chris Goode is letting on – does this make it all the more poignant? I think time will tell.
The Adventures Of Wound Man & Shirley was at Ipswich's New Wolsey Theatre on 13 June 2009 as part of the Pulse Fringe Festival.
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last updated: 15/06/2009 at 16:30
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