A Super Twist: Local playwright explores loss by ‘unsupering’ heroes

James Johonnott

HE’S GOT THE TOUCH. Jake Pritchard and Zoë Jennings rehearse a scene from A Real Super Time, A Post-Superhero Play.
HE’S GOT THE TOUCH. Jake Pritchard and Zoë Jennings rehearse a scene from A Real Super Time, A Post-Superhero Play.

Fresh off of the revival of her original, madcap comedy “Thieves and Bad, Bad Lies”, local playwright and director Logan Toftness decided to tackle a genre not usually written for stage –superheroes.

“A Real Super Time, A Post-Superhero Play”, running from Aug. 9-12 at The Grand Theatre and, performed by Toftness’s theatre company “Speck of Dust”, tells the story of a band of superheroes who have lost their superpowers and now must adapt to life as normal people.

“It’s a healthy mix of ridiculous physical comedy, a few witty lines, and melancholy drama,” Toftness said. “You’ll laugh. But there are some sad bits, too. It might not be what an audience expects from a show about superheroes.”

The cast of former-supers includes a healer who now faints at the sight of blood, a spy who can’t get used to not being invisible anymore, a grounded flier, an unstable former psychic, a man with guns for arms, and additional memorable personalities. Toftness has made it a point to write strong, motivated female characters, something she had found modern media struggles with.

Superhero stories are a huge part of popular culture, and Toftness wanted to tell a story in that space using some of the general understanding about the topic that we all have. But in order to adapt a genre that usually relies on big-budget special effects for stage, she decided to take away the superpowers themselves. Without the powers, she discovered what proves to be a compelling story about coping with loss, moving on, and adapting to new realities that are out of a person’s control.

“Taking away the powers allows you to focus on the human story of the characters,” Toftness said. “I think that’s a huge advantage of these characters – you can deal with something huge, but you can do it in a way that’s also ridiculous, funny, and heartwarming.”

Audiences can expect a super story about loss, being lost, and the silly ways that people try to deal with hard changes in their lives, built on the clever writing that made Toftness’s last show stand out. “There is a balance between humor and sadness, so although you will spend much of this show laughing, it will also give you something deeper and more meaningful to think and talk about,” Toftness said.

“A Real Super Time, A Post-Superhero Play” • Aug. 9-11, 7:30pm; Aug. 12, 1:30pm • The Grand Theatre, 102 W. Grand Ave., Eau Claire • $15 general admission, $10 students • Find it on Facebook