Review by: John Bandler
It would be impossible not to contrast Heroery with the iconic tales of Don Quixote. Even the word windmill drifted to mind as I sat mesmerized by the high-octane shenanigans on the stage.
The thrust and parry between self-proclaimed hero Stevetaur (Jonathon Calhoun) and sidekick Denperratis (Ryan Collins) were as sharp and contrasting as those, respectively, between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. But that’s where the analogy ends. Unlike the endearing, chivalrous Don Quixote, Stevetaur is an anti-chivalrous psychopath that treats everyone around him like vermin.
However, playwright/director/costume designer Steve Stockwell is playing with us. He does not introduce us to Stevetaur and Denperratis until we have first bought into the crisis faced by M’Lady Stockellberry (Shelley Levi)—quite the opposite of a Dulcinea del Toboso peasant girl—and the coquettish Mistress Dill (Sarah C.E. Stanton), her chambermaid. Oscarthgus, the king’s evil half-brother, has taken over the kingdom in the king’s “absence” and, inevitably, has dastardly designs on M’Lady. “The kingdom suffereth while the king is away,” observes Mistress Dill.
M’Lady longs for a hero—“a man of bravery”—and Mistress Dill seems to have the riverside washerwomen contacts to oblige. Unluckily, however, Oscarthgus neutralizes Mistress Dill and imprisons M’Lady in a tower to languish until her wedding day.
Nevertheless, M’Lady’s plight comes to the attention of Stevetaur, who first boasts grandly of finding the king so that the king can deal with the crisis but then embarks “with vigor” on vanquishing the evil half-brother and taking M’Lady for himself.
The over-the-top exchanges between Stevetaur and Denperratis are superbly crafted and acted. The overall plot is very well set up, with abrupt twists and absurdities, followed by a rush of comprehension.
“I have faith in logic,” declares Denperratis. And so should you. I suggest that this outstanding production be seen twice to fully appreciate the author’s brilliant realization.