I spent 5 hours in a world filled with super-powered androids, fighting tournaments, prophesies favoring the young and spunky, mecha-mobile suits, and unlikely allies uniting for the greater good. If this action packed, anime riffing universe sounds like your cup of sake, there will be no better place for you to spend 5 hours than the hyper-ambitious Kapow-i GoGo Episodes 1-9.
Kapow-i Go-Go is born from the mind of Matt Cox influenced and lovingly parodying Dragon Ball Z/Pokemon/Zelda/Cowboy Beebob/Final Fantasy/Akira/etc. The material was originally written for The Flea’s Serials series. The show was presented in 30 minute installments and was voted back to be continued each week leading to the 9-part marathon incarnation seen at the People’s Improv Theatre.
Directed with gorgeous tableau work and zippy pacing by Kristin McCarthy and Joel Stern, the episodic epic follows the spunky Kapow-i through the years as she grows, loves, and, fights alongside a fantastic cast of characters; each of which are introduced in an awesomely staged title sequence at the top of each part (with an awesome theme by Brian Hoes). Each part takes a darker tone than the preceding leading up to the third act that parodies grittier live action reboots of animated and comic classics.
Madeleine Bundy anchors the show as Kapow-i with spunk, angst and believable growth. Kapow-i leaves home at 14 to prove herself as the greatest fighter in the World’s Ultimate Warrior tournament. She goes on the hero’s quest with the pervy old man Masterwhiskies (Hank Lin) and her annoying 30-year old brother Hicc-up.
Mike Axelrod adeptly plays Kapow-i’s ever-in-flux brother Hicc-Up, who shows conflicting morality over the course of the evening after a fierce outer demon (appropriately fierce Christina Pitter) brings out his inner demons of jealousy and scandalous fashion (Josh Boerman & Joel Soren did the eye popping and resourceful costuming that would be well recieved at Comic Con). His relationship to his sister is constantly in flux leading to epic battles, revelations, and a well-deserved conclusion. Alex J. Gould did the fight choreography with exactitude of a Final Fantasy battle system with cardboard-ki blasts.
Challenging a worn video game trope, Kapow-i rescues and romances two lovely, but independent princesses (Eliza Simpson and Tara Pacheco). This is a world of no shame in sexual identity or expression. There’s no need to explore Kapow-i’s queerness because it just is.
Yes, the world of Kapow-i is filled with strong, bad ass female characters, perhaps none moreso than the gun toting android Blade Gunblade, perfectly embodied by Asia Kate Dillon. She even gets an awesome heart-wrenching backstory.
The entire cast should be commended for their boundless energy. From Evan Maltby’s coyish Moobat and sprite-animated Tuxedo Gary, to Amy Jo Jackson’s deliciously wicked Madam Blood and a finely voiced Pop Singer, this game, versatile ensemble was constantly entertaining to watch transform. The audience definitely agreed.
Kapow-i obviously built quite the fan base from the Flea: I have never experienced that much infectious energy from a theatre audience. There was uproarious laughter for in-jokes and thunderous applause for Cox and Karsten Otto as Team Trouble- two meddlesome cat humanoids drawn from the likes of Team Rocket with their own spoken theme poem.
Yes, this marathon production runs about the length of about 2 Les Miserableses but these 5 hours might be the most fun you could have at a theatre this summer. With a short break after each episode and 2 full intermissions, the hyper-episodic format of Kapow-i give the audience a live, communal binge watch. Kapow-i and friends will return to the People’s Improv Theater on May 24th and June 20th.
Kapow-i GoGo by Matt Cox
Directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker & Joel Soren
Production design by Joel Soren
Lighting design by Joel Soren
Costume design by Josh Boerman & Joel Soren
Sound design by Matt Cox
Fight choreography by Alex J. Gould
Score by Brian Hoes
Hair and make-up design by The Company
Produced by Stephen Stout and Colin Waitt
1. The Company. Credit- Anya Gibian
2. Madeleine Bundy and Colin Waitt. Credit- Anya Gibian
3. Madeleine Bundy and Eliza Simpson Credit- Anya Gibian
4. Hank Lin, Tara Pacheco, Asia Kate Dillon Credit- Keola Simpson
5. Karsten Otto, Matt Cox. Credit- Eleanor Phillips