A live radio play with a hero, villains, robots and super powers, Bullet: A Superhero Comedy gives its audience a satisfying action story performed with style. However – Holy misclassification Batman! – it is less like a comedy and more an adventure with some comedic touches such as animated classic The Incredibles. Bullet has the soul of a fringe show and its success is in its showcasing the voice actors’ talents, so go along for that and don’t expect a joke fest.
The six actors perform over 15 roles between them, and the characters are successfully given their own nuances. While some of the minor characters suffered from unintelligible lines at some points (possibly due to high pitched delivery or thicker accents), lines of the major characters were delivered with great clarity.
Being able to see the actors deliver their lines had some unexpected perks that took this performance beyond a radio play and into a theatre piece. Our hero, Bullet, (a square-jawed Stefan Taylor looking like he’s just stepped off a Marvel comic) effectively handled the traditional hero role as well as Bullet’s darker mindset as his enemies gained the upper hand in the fight for Settlement City. Chief villain Dostoyana Ursine (Andi Snelling) is given abundant pathological rage and loathing and very nearly steals the show. Clearly not about to be limited by the radio play format, Snelling contorted her face to show disdain and malevolence, and made her fellow actors call on superhuman reserves of stoicism to avoid laughing. Nicholas Barker-Pendree showed flair as Ursine’s jaded but scheming right-hand The Critic, and appealing nuttiness as Bullet’s foe Prospero, the dark magician.
As the audience has walked in on one episode of the Bullet saga, it was necessary to give some back-story on the relationships between characters. In some cases this was efficiently given – the scene between Prospero and Bullet was an excellent example of this – however the hints of Bullet’s history with characters Skyhook and Dr Meredith Blyte could use some development, particularly in the latter case.“For an entertaining night out Bullet scores a bullseye“
The performers and sound effects were synchronized at almost every cue, itself an impressive achievement.
Ben McEwing’s direction keeps the pace up, effectively maintaining a feeling of urgency in the conflict scenes and contributing to the comic book feel. I noticed that when the lights were lowered between scenes that elements of the audience wanted to follow the lead of some actors and treat the show like a theatre performance by clapping or oohing. As the fourth wall has not so much been broken as pulverised (KAPOW!) by this stage, maybe leaving the lights off a little longer between scenes will give the audience a chance to express their appreciation as the action unfolds.
I suspect even The Critic would have to concede that for an entertaining night out Bullet scores a bullseye. I look forward to any future episodes in the genre from writers Simon J. Green and Sean Fabri. Zowie!