The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley

Sport and fitness
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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Scratch-focused arts den BAC has assembled a goody bag of indie favourites for the festive season. Most shows in the month-long ‘Cook Up’ only play for a night or two. But Chris Goode’s sweetly eccentric monologue on first love and first loss merits its longer billing.

Goode is a star of intelligent leftfield theatre and this deft, gentle piece of invention shows why. It begins in the suburban bedroom of a boy named Shirley, who has stars on his ceiling and unrequited dreams of a schoolmate called Darling on his mind.

But Shirley’s shyness, his secret crush and the sadness he keeps locked up under the bed are eclipsed by a gorgeous narrative metaphor: his bittersweet imaginary friendship with Wound Man, a superhero drawn from a sixteenth-century surgical diagram of violent wounds to the body.

In Goode’s perceptive fantasia, Wound Man moves in to Shirley’s cul-de-sac, dragging his limbs – which are pierced by arrows, swords, knives and iron balls – behind him with a ‘clunkety clank’.

Wound Man hails from the slightly gay Christlike school of superheroes, with his snazzy loincloth, his slightly compromised yen for adolescent sidekicks, and his ability to make the victims of disaster feel better because he looks like they feel. But he seems entirely natural among the lost socks and ET models of Shirley’s bedroom: like an anguished adolescent doodle who has come to oddly benevolent life.

The show’s tremendous appeal lies in the encounter between fantasy and the everyday – and in the wit and emotional honesty with which the whimsy is applied. Goode tells his delicate story with grace, rhythm and a lot of TLC. I’d like to see more sustained evidence like this of BAC’s mission to ‘invent the future of theatre’. But if the future of theatre is this Goode, we’ll all be smiling.



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