Superheroes have always had a place in our hearts. We’re just not sure if it’s because when we were kids we could identify with their “secret lives,” or if we were just mesmerized by those bulges beneath the tights.
As adults, we can definitively say it’s the tights. That thin layer of spandex (and only three restraining orders) is all that separates us from Brandon Routh’s true superpowers, making us weaker than Superman drinking an Acai-berry smoothie through a Kryptonite straw.
In Based on a Totally True Story at Addison’s WaterTower Theatre, we meet Ethan, a bookish playwright and comic book writer with a new boyfriend and a once-in-a-lifetime chance: to turn one of his plays into a Hollywood movie. What should be the most exciting time of his career is plagued by his lover’s need for more attention, his father’s confession of an extramarital affair, and a crazy movie producer who gradually changes the plot, characters and practically everything about his play as it makes its way to the silver screen.
Masterfully weaving comedy and drama, playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has created a very complex leading character in Ethan, portrayed by the super-cute Andrew Phifer, who brings a natural believability to every line of dialogue. There’s a casual, conversational tone that keeps the plot moving without ever veering into melodramatics.
Co-stars shine, too. Mary Anna Austin as Ethan’s pushy agent is wildly enjoyable, as is Beau Trujillo as the needy boyfriend. Jared Eaton takes on multiple supporting roles, including a hubba-hubba shirtless scene as a Hollywood actor looking to get ahead in the biz.
Directed by James Paul Lemons, there is never a dull moment. Mixing in multimedia elements via a large screen backdrop, the otherwise barren stage transforms into far-off cities (or just the Apple Store in one instance) with the click of a button. Thus, the focus is always on the actors, which is ideal for a character-driven piece like Based on a Totally True Story.
And like any good hero, WaterTower Theatre once again saves the day.
Runs through Sunday, May 3
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at the Addison Theatre Centre.
Seating is general admission with NO late seating.