Superbard Starts to Save the World Reviews
The Scotsman 4/5
The Spark storytellers all tell conventional stories, with beginnings, middles and ends, but there’s nothing remotely conventional about Superbard Starts to Save the World, a piece of meta-storytelling so multi-layered it’s doubtful even its creator, George Lewkowicz fully understands all its myriad implications.
Introducing himself as “a storyteller from the future,” Superbard explains that, over the course of the next hour, he must make a choice between saving the world and finding true love. Two members of the audience are then called on to play a very prominent role in the action.
When you strip away all the meta-textual trickery, there’s not much actual storytelling going on, but a more mind-bending deconstruction of the concept of the story is difficult to imagine.
Festival Journal 4/5
Going into Superbard Starts to Save the World, one is not sure what to expect. Even in the opening sequence — a dramatic newsreel of Greek riots, the global financial crisis and clips from the Leveson Inquiry — we are almost led to believe that this will be a political satire on current affairs, soon to be out of date. In fact, this build-up is almost unrelated to the timeless, thought-provoking content of the play.
Audience participation is at the heart of George Lewkowicz's act. Try not to be shocked if a script is thrust into your hands and you get a main role. The Superbard steps in and out of character so seamlessly that it's impossible to tell which parts are improvised and which are scripted; the same goes for the audience members' reactions.
The technical direction is flawless, in perfect synchronisation with the live performance. Combined with Lewkowicz's stream of consciousness storytelling, you soon find yourself inside the mind of a time travelling policeman as he explores the ideas of love and fate.
The writing is fantastic if not overly ambitious, with Superbard stumbling over a line here and there. Some jokes fell flat but one can't help but feel these perceived gaffes were all intentional, since "awkwardness" is a recurrent theme.
Coming away, everybody in the audience feels thoroughly fulfilled by the performance but no closer to being able to describe its content to others. The only recommendation can be to go and see it for yourself.
Sabotage Reviews 4/5
We’ve reviewed Superbard before, so I was looking forward to this show. While I was expecting rehearsed media interaction, I had not expected how much the show relied upon the audience. Or more specifically: two members of the audience whose new-found love might save the world. They are given scripts in envelopes (a neat take on audience interaction) that carefully don’t give away the plot, which has some interesting twists so that they are able to enjoy the night despite being called on periodically. My one sticking point with the show, in that it does rely upon the goodwill of the chosen actors, also that they’ll play along should they not be heterosexual. But Superbard also does a good job improvising when things do not go to plan, so it isn’t all lost if don’t play along.
The premise that Superbard is a time-traveller from the Future is mined richly, using several set pieces that are both moving and amusing. There’s a school talk by the embittered office-bound time police agent disabusing us of the glamour of the job (“it’s mainly spreadsheets”… “I studied history! I just wanna see a witch drown!”) and a drunken night in the future, featuring some excellent world-building with subtle nods to the fantastical (being beaten up by super-soldiers “silhouetted by the fake moon”).
What is also particularly fun is the playful take on the act of storytelling, deconstructing it through having actors whose actions he both narrates (“it’s ok, it’s just a script, he thinks”) and sometimes instructs, with a fantastic exploration of fate (Pirandello, anyone?). The impending doom is the “slowburn apocalypse”, where we know each other “less and less” and become strangers. Intimacy and love will carry the day, it seems, which should warm the heart of even the bitterest cynics like myself.
Very enjoyable, and do catch it if you can.
Superbard And The Sexy Quantum Stories Reviews (2011)
www.fringereview.co.uk 4/5 Highly Recommended Show
George Lewkowicz is a writer and performer who is beginning to develop a substantial reputation for the quality of his storytelling, and the ways he harnesses new media to develop and tell them.
It’s a new different and really welcome development of the storytelling genre, far beyond the “finger in the ear” traditional folk storytelling which has reappeared on the Fringe in the last few years. This is new media storytelling, both in creation, in telling, but also as importantly in the structuring of the central ideas.
And it all makes for a very impressive debut on this year’s fringe. Drawing on some of the most theoretical of theoretical physics and quantum mechanics, Lewkowicz creates a series of interwoven stories. The better of these are very good indeed, combining strong storylines with intelligent, clever uses of new media to create something entertaining and insightful. The weaker stories, (story 3 in particular where he nearly lost his audience and which hopefully will soon be dropped), are those which focus on young men whose notion of sex is entirely in their heads and handmade.
A clever entrance develops into a discussion of parallel universes, and earthlings walking out tentacle in hand John Cooper Clarke style with a monster from outer space. It’s a great start, and the first two stories build on the solid beginning.
What I liked so much about this show is that Lewkowicz is taking storytelling into a very different and much more interesting arena than the more quaint and backward-looking styles of work of Rachel Rose Reid, for example. Its storytelling harnessing the internet. Its innovative in its delivery, robust in its structures and uses of new media, creative in that it is genuinely new and has so much potential; it is very exciting.
Combine that with Lewkowicz's presence on stage and you have something and someone very special. He is a developing into a fine performer, who grabs his audience, and takes them with him on this journey, theoretical physics and all. Its genuinely funny, intelligent, clever and inspiring to watch and listen to.
The result is surreal, wonderful imagery reminiscent of very early Hitchhiker Guides on the radio. Lewkowicz could become a very big talent indeed. Go and see this show, and you will see why.
Reviewed by Mike Fitzgerald 07 August 2011
Superbard (and the Sexy Quantum Stories)
Was vastly entertaining.
Superbard (one of the founders of Tea Fuelled Art and the man behind the excellent Flea Circus) is the resident storyteller at the Brockley Jack Theatre. He is also from the future.
An innovative performer, using multimedia to aid his storytelling, he’s been featured on Newsnight, Radio 4 and The Jeremy Vine Show. His brand of immersive tale-weaving is innovative and involving, somewhere between spoken word, musical (yes, he bursts into song) and some kind of live film. The stop motion video-music sequence and song especially was incredibly filmed, a great climax to the show. If he really is from the future and this is where storytelling is going, then I’m ok with it.
His stories all centered on a guy called Steve, played on the screen behind him by, um, Superbard. It abounds with supporting characters (pre-recordings from actors or sometimes himself) with which he interacts. The premise: Steve’s life could have gone in two different directions, the story itself exists in a state of quantum flux, the events of which we’re told (thematically, rather than chronologically) may never happen to Steve, it all depends on his choice. It’s got quite a range as a show, touching on Steve’s varied youth, going all the way to his old age, taking in one particularly surreal encounter with an alien sex-jellyfish. The turns the tales take are often surreal and very funny, in a mad-genius kind of a way, but all weave together into a very cohesive whole. Oh, then he throws some incredibly poignant heartbreak in there. Just to mess with you I imagine. In the end we see that Steve, while deeply funny, also inspires a deep pathos.
The surrounding cast of voices and projections make it seem like more than just a one-man show, however, adding depth and variety to Superbard’s already excellent performance. His timing, it has to be said, was something to behold. With only some minor hiccups he managed to keep in time with the music and the recorded actors; any mistakes were glibly set aside, his engaging manner helping to keep the audience with him through the few pauses while he waited for the soundtrack to catch up. His delivery also strikes just the right pitch with his material, catching the rhythms of the music and the tones of the writing (suitably animated and quirky in places, deathly serious and subdued in others) with aplomb.
It’s a great show. Perhaps neither truly spoken word, musical, film, theatre nor storytelling, but it has elements of all of them, and uses them all to craft one weird, amusing and (sometimes) deeply upsetting piece. I recommend you go see it if you’re in Edinburgh. If you’re not in Edinburgh, then go to Edinburgh and see it.
Steve Branch has come unstuck in time, has a liaison with an alien from another planet, and when he flits to the part of his (after) life where he is dead, it is all a purple hum. Fans of Kurt Vonnegut will recognise these reference points from his 1969 novel Slaughterhouse Five, and this clever, lyrically written multimedia show from Superbard (aka George Lewkowicz) also has an at times surprising melancholy among the comedy - another trait shared with much of Vonnegut's work. The one-man show consists, in non-linear order of course, of scenes from Steve's life and death, narrated and sung by our host Superbard, and featuring some beautifully synched interchanges with characters on a video-projected backdrop, as well as self-penned groovy accompanying music. Among other snapshots, there is a most amusing sneak insight into "The Greatest Movie Ever", rendered with stop- motion animation and an Action Man, the plot of which makes Surf Nazis Must Die look like Tarkovsky.
The "quantum" bit from the title really only enters at the end - the idea from that branch of physics that there are an infinite number of parallel universes out there, in which our lives thus may be infinitely different. This theme is underdeveloped, and the choice of paths Steve is offered, and the price of making that choice, is more Sliding Doors than Niels Bohr.
This is a technically well crafted and poetically written show, but with an underwhelming climax and uneven tone, it comes over as a series of tenuously threaded but essentially disparate sketches. At least, that's my string theory.
Jumping aboard Superbard’s storytelling train is a bit like riding shotgun in Doc’s Deloreon; you’re going to suspend your disbelief and hope he doesn’t crash. This is clever storytelling, diverting away from traditional inroads to create a new kind of folklore. Namely one which is preoccupied with the sexual prowess of big, blue aliens, the inner monologue of a busty blonde porn star and wondering ‘Is this a cone?’. The answer is yes, it is. The stories link up to explain the life of Steve, a boy who has troubles with masturbation and meets the love of his life on Chat Roulette. The question asked is this: what would have happened to Steve if he had taken the change to sleep with a prostitute alien instead of refusing this kind, if surreal, offer? What follows are a series of stories, sometimes sad and often hilarious, which chart the progress of Steve’s existence. It is only when a giant floating head appears that he is offered a ‘do-over’ to change the decisions made. From tales of poetic porn to mental breakdowns the narrative twists and turns at break-neck speed with the last story settling the pulse to explore a more moving side of the character. Plus, the love of Steve’s life knows the plot to the best movie ever written and when this teaser eventually is revealed the audience are not disappointed as a cleverly produced video montage ends the show. Superbard’s mixture of story and song are held together with a big dollop of self-confidence, which luckily doesn’t blur into the lines of arrogance. This might not be humour to suit everyone’s taste. There is a dash of ‘the Inbetweeners’ style awkwardness, with the delivery of Superbard sometimes turning into a Simon Bird impression, and the comic aspects often run parallel between clever and crude. Despite this, Superbard is a unique raconteur managing to hold together each thread of the story and pulling them together neatly at the end.
Superbard Reviews (2010)
Sometimes it takes adversity to show what a performer is capable of. It's not something anyone wants to go through, but a technical hitch that took out half of this show was not enough to dim the affable charisma of this engaging performer, and one of his two planned stories was enough to leave me wanting more. A pleasingly gothic rom-com, the first tale is perfectly pitched; the script is funny, inventively surreal and suits the knowing, offbeat performance style. The atmospheric surrounds of the cave-like venue serve to enhance the experience. Although today the show lacked music, a quick listen to previous recordings served to assure that, hitch sorted, this will be even better. Don't miss it.
“What a great, exciting, unusual set”
“beautiful writing with strong images... language is daring, tense, exciting, ironic, almost aggressive.”