Like the Justice League meets The Office, Sidekicks
imagines the everyday drudgery of being a superhero—and the particular
travails of playing second fiddle to the big shots. Set in a land called
New Cascadia, evoked by drawings of a lumpy Portlandia statue
and a wonky-looking Hawthorne Bridge, these superheroes have had it easy
recently. Sure, Vitality's bar Dig a Power might be losing money, and
the coffee mugs might be piling up in the office sink, but things have
been fairly villain-free…until the evil Influencer and the Technolord
hijack a pirated TV signal and inform the city of their evil plans.
Action/Adventure Theatre has made its name on semi-scripted serial
comedies (Fall of the House, Captured by Aliens, Fall of the Band) that unfold over several weeks, and much of Sidekicks
proves why this scrappy troupe manages to sell out shows. Co-directors
Pat Moran and Noah Dunham keep the action moving at a brisk clip, and
the cast has energy and spunk: Katie Michels makes a great
flying-squirrel wannabe, all stubbornly scrunched face and daffy
delivery, and Nate Ayling has a bro-tastic turn as a clone who's been
programmed to party, rattling his body in unison with his cocktail
shaker. But the ad-libbing, at least on April 5, was hit-or-miss, and
opportunities for humor—particularly chances to jab at Portland or
workplace dynamics—slipped by. For all their stage time, the superheroes
weren't as funny as their underlings. This mission might best be left
to the lackeys.
SEE IT: Sidekicks is at Action/Adventure Theatre, 1050 SE Clinton St., actionadventure.org. 8 pm Thursdays-Sundays through April 27. $10-$15, Thursdays "pay what you will."