Art Review | Heroes is Theatre Absurd Done Right

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Friday, May 27, 2016 

under Culture by Claire Lily Squire

Some good advice for you, boys; "Never tell a woman that making her laugh and making her climax are equally important, she'll think you'll divide your concentration and she'll drop you just like that!"


So often in theatre, directors hide behind the term ‘absurd’ and use it to get away with charging a lot of money for what is essentially bollocks. Absurd bollocks maybe, but still bollocks. “Heroes” however, is not bollocks.


Twisted Carousel Theatre presents “Heroes,” written by Tony Award winner Tom Stoppard and directed by Julien Bertrand. The show tells the story of three war veterans, Henri (Mark Edwards), Phillipe (Paul Collins) and Gustave (Curt Mabry). Set in an old soldiers’ home, we watch the three protagonists plot their escape, heading for a nearby group of poplar trees.


When I first heard this absurdist play was being performed in a reasonably naturalistic style I was unimpressed. Taking the Absurd out of an Absurdist play is like sucking the helium out of a balloon. You still have a balloon, but now it’s just a bit of plastic and you sound like a dick to boot.


However, Bertrand pulls it off with aplomb. “Heroes” is a staggeringly well put-together piece. Bertrand says one of his reasons behind staging this play was to honour his grandparents and as I watched the characters unfold I kept thinking, what if this was my grandfather?



The performances given by Curt Mabry, Paul Collins and Mark Edwards were excellent. They portrayed rich and developed characters. An instant bond was created between them and the audience. Paul Collins in particular stood out, his portrayal of Phillippe, who would regularly black out due to a piece of shrapnel lodged in his brain, was intelligent and insightful. Collins managed to walk the line between humour and seriousness, which kept the audience fully engaged. I found myself leaping from laughter to a deep sense of foreboding and fear then back again in the time it took to read two lines.


In fact I haven’t laughed this much at a play in a long time. The humour was clever, each line delivered in an intelligent way. It would’ve been easy for the director to slip into the pitfall of caricaturing the old men, in the hope of getting a laugh. But instead by developing three strong characters, the humour feels genuine and realistic.


Though the budget was small, and the production certainly had a couple of rough edges, that seemed to bring something to the performance instead of taking anything way. The set was minimalistic and highly functional. Including a statue of a large dog. A strong contender for my favourite character.


All in all a thoroughly splendid way to spend an evening. I take my hat off to the team at Twisted Carousel Theatre, they chose a difficult play, and rose to the challenge. I would highly advise getting your butts down there to see it.





“Heroes” will be holding evening performances at 8.30pm on the 27th & 28th, with matinée performances at 4pm on May 28th & 29th.



ANKEN GREEN Rooftop, 668 Huái'ān Road, near West Sūzhōu Road (淮安路668号, 近西苏州路)

How Much:

180 RMB presale, 200 RMB on the door.


For reservations and further information please contact Twisted Carousel at: 


View Anken Green Information