Written by Alina Mae Wilson
I saw Hearts Like Fists Thursday at Cal State Fullerton’s Hallberg Theatre. Despite what the title suggests, the show showed a distinct lack of substance—full of ideas and action but very little heart.
The story follows Lisa, a vigilante who tries to independently take down our villain Dr. X, played to near-perfection by Chayan Tavakoly. While unsuccessful, she manages to gain the attention of the all-female band of superheroes known as The Crimefighters (it’s satire, so we’ll overlook the ridiculous name). They ask her to join, and she must make the century-old decision—should she be a superhero or open her heart to Love? The love interest here is a doctor named Peter, who has issues with his heart because it has been broken too many times. Lisa has problems with her heart because she is afraid to open it up. As an audience member, you get tired of this so fast. It’s boring and not helped by the leading actors playing the love interests. They don’t seem real. I know the irony of saying characters aren’t acting authentic in a satire, but in this case, the main title characters are what ground this play. It’s a play of transitions, loud to soft, serious to humorous, and those beats can be hard to pull off. It must be challenging to play their scenes because the conversations go on forever and don’t seem to serve any purpose except to pad the show with frankly unneeded dialogue about hearts.
Infinitely more appealing is The Crimefighter trio, played by Emily Ruth James, Stephanie Wilborn, and Bailey Castle. The characters were well-written and amusing. If characters like these were more fleshed out, the entire thing would have gone more smoothly because it would have gained some emotional integrity.
Doctor X is one of the best things about the show. I’m pretty surprised most of Doctor X’s lines could easily be turned into a ham. Somehow, Tavakoly made it believable. I had no problem sitting through his monologues, which in the hands of a less capable actor, would undoubtedly resemble mini-eternities. The show gets better after intermission. Overall it was a show of excess, little balance, fun acrobatics, and too little sincerity or real feeling.
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Date & Location :
September 26, 2014 — October 19, 2014
800 N State College Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92831
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