Nine episodes of video game-inspired theater draw crowds at the PIT.
You may recall us writing about Kapow-i Gogo before--we last covered the show this past March, when we looked at Part 1 of the series in preparation for their first full marathon performance. Well, the series has now become so popular that its run at the People's Improv Theatre has been extended, with monthly marathon performances thrilling new audiences who just can't get enough of the blue-haired 14-year-old fighting champion. So, how does the rest of the marathon stack up against what we've seen so far?
Part 2 takes place four years after the events of Part 1, with a now much older and wiser 18-year-old Kapow-i growing ever more frustrated at being taken advantage of as she is called on to save the world again and again. The only thing that lifts her heart in this particular adventure is the beautiful, light-hearted, eternally good Princess Cloudberry, whom Kapow-i must save from kidnappers who seek to harness the demonic powers she suddenly developed four years ago. But things go awry when Kapow-i is declared a traitor and an outlaw by King Cloudberry and the ever more powerful Ultra Corporation, and soon the fate of the entire world is at stake.
Part 3 is another five years into the future, and the entire world is on the brink of war and destruction. Having been warned of the upcoming apocalypse by her future son, Terminator-style, a fiercely protective Kapow-i will do anything to save her wife, now Queen Cloudberry, and their young daughter Giggle. But the Ultra Corporation has now grown too strong for even the united world leaders to stop, and it will take every hero, villain and comic relief character Kapow-i has encountered on her journeys to save the world for the last time.
When watched in a single sitting, it becomes clear just how amazing it is that playwright Matt Cox and his team have created a show that contains so many references and tropes but is still wildly original. While it may become a little too dependent on the Terminator series by the end, Kapow-i GoGo defies stereotypes and cliches by making all of its power players, both good and evil, women. Once we find out the truth about Kapow-i's evil mother, her strange and mysterious father pales in comparison, while lesbian relationships throughout are portrayed with simplicity and sincerity.
Kapow-i (Madeleine Bundy) matures convincingly throughout the play from 14 to 32, with an exciting series of costumes to match. The play also maintains a distinct cast of characters throughout whom we are excited to see back in the final episode to take down the big final boss, especially old favorites such as Kapow-i's brother Hicc-up (Mike Axelrod), longtime rival Tuxedo Gary (Evan Maltby) and the eternally troublesome Team Trouble, Mr. Snuggles (Matt Cox) and Mr. Smiles (Karsten Otto).
Later additions to the cast as the show progresses add a new dimension and maturity to the adventures, whether it is the sweet but immensely powerful Princess Cloudberry (Eliza Simpson), Asia Kate Dillon as Blade Gunblade, the assassin who has no memory of her past but a taste for revenge, Amy Jo Jackson as the truly evil Madame Blood or Andy Miller's portrayal of the adorable and deadly little princess, Giggle GoGo. As Kapow-i's world gets more complex, her need to stand for belief and love in the face of all evil becomes progressively more difficult--and more than a little hokey--but this talented ensemble manages to pull it off.
But it's not just the characters that mature as the show progresses. The costumes become sleeker and more menacing, while the once-bumbling stage combat of new fighters Kapow-i and Hicc-up has largely been replaced by the brutally efficient ripping out of hearts, eyes and more with splashes of blood to match. Even multimedia additions like the variety of theme songs grow along with the show, letting you experience the time passing along with the characters. There are even trading cards to really get you into the game.
If there's one thing that this show makes clear, it's that five hours of theater on a weekend afternoon is far from boring. Join Kapow-i and her friends on an epic journey full of kickass fighting, love and betrayal and finding alliances in the most unlikely of places. Relive your childhood, the 90s, Saturday morning cartoons and more with this unforgettable adventure.
Kapow-i GoGo plays various dates at the People's Improv Theater.
This article was previously published on CHARGED.fm.