Review: The Secret Lives of Superheroes
Within every festival there is bound to be a few surprises, and the Feast Festival is no exception.
The intimate stage of the Cloakroom at the Feast ANZ Hub has been designed as a space for new performers and shows to trial their material on a live audience. Entering into the Cloakroom, essentially just a shipping container decked out with seats and speakers, the heat is stifling at the end of a warm day. Focussing on the potential embarrassment of dripping sweat everywhere, I’m unprepared for the gem of a performance to follow.
The mild mannered and pleasantly spoken James Stafford carries his infectious smile with him through the shipping container to the front where his guitar waits and the revelation begins. In his show, The Secret Lives of Superheroes, we are taken on a music journey exploring personal relationships between gay twin brothers, how Santa keeps the mums with moustaches at bay, and most importantly what X-Men would be like if Wolverine ditched his claws for jazz hands.
The version of Stafford we met at the door evaporates and is replaced by a delightful array of characters, complete with their respective accents, tone and singing tune. His voice so clearly marks the distinction between characters that the simple props are almost unnecessary, and the accuracy and talent of his performance render us oblivious to anything other than his beautiful vocals and impersonations. I could go so far to say that his interpretation of Magneto is, well, more magnetic than that of Sir Ian McKellan.
The splendid blend of comedy with gentle touches of poignant wisdom in a personal and surreal tale was a wonderful surprise at Feast. It was impossible for us, despite stories involving death and loss, to leave the show without the warm fuzzy glow Stafford seems to carry with him so effortlessly.
The fact that Stafford’s appearance at Feast is his first performance of The Secret Lives of Superheroes marks him as an act to look out for in the future. If there’s even a hint of Stafford’s return to Feast next year he will be one of the standout shows of the festival and a must see for festival goers in search of a unique and intimate show.