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How to be a Hero

Birmingham Rep Door


GAMMA Guild are four superheroes who take on the night within the streets of Bristol, fighting evil and wrong doing.

In a cartoonish and raucous production of fun and action, Bernadette Russell and Gareth Brierley take on the roles of stereotypical superheroes, dressed in outrageous costumes and telling us their comical mishaps as they try to put a stop to all evil.

How to be a Hero looks at what makes a person good or bad, and allows us to think about the heroes in our own lives.

Watching the production feels as if you are stepping into a real-life comic book. The duo are clad in colourful and bold costumes, fit for the perfect fictional superhero. Their minimal set allows us to engage with their high-energy and extremely funny performance. Behind the action is a screen that sets out the story board with comic-book like pictures and delivers their endearing and heart-felt message.

Together, Brierley and Russell are dynamic actors, unafraid of playfulness and feed off each other’s enthusiasm. In their two-hander directed brilliantly by Tessa Walker, we see them take on the roles of the four superheroes of Gamma Guild, fighting evil from Bristol and beyond and making the audience reflect on what makes an everyday hero.


Russell and Brierley show the different concepts of heroism and challenge it within the performance. In the story of Gamma Guild, we see fictional vigilantes who truly believe that the world is a dark place without them. In funny scenes of ‘hero training’, the audience were in fits of laughter with roaring sequences to pumping music and a funny montage taking the foursome from rookie to professional.

Gamma Guild feel that nobody can stop them, and the world will crumble without their presence. It is a fun façade that makes the underlying message all the more touching. The guild present themselves as larger than life heroes, combating all evil, but what Brierley and Russell ask is what makes somebody a good person?

The conflict between judging those on their actions is very cleverly seen throughout the production. As the fun and light-hearted story goes on, we are exposed to moral questions that make us reflect on how we judge others by their actions, and most importantly, how our own actions affect other people.

This was highlighted in a wonderful moment where Russell delivered a speech on why she is a hero, explaining in a passionate delivery that she is the person who represents those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Gamma Guild want to do good, but their senior officer receives complaints from the public that they are indeed disturbing innocent civilians in their quest to find evil. The turning point comes when Brierley, disguised as a woman, spies for evil women in a ladies toilet cubicle. To themselves, they are the height of heroism, fighting all things bad in the world. In reality, nobody wants them around.

They are endearing and poignant at the same time. Brierley is extremely comedic, injecting the audience with constant laughs and giggles, especially in his bold rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s ‘I need a Hero’ and Russell’s heart of gold is resonant and touching.

They present us with the idea that we encounter good and bad in every situation. Through their captivating and bold story, Brierley and Russell tell us that there are good people everywhere, and do not need to wear costumes for us to see. At the end of the performance, we see pictures of the public holding signs of who their heroes are. How to be a Hero is a touching homage to everyone who is a good person and hero. Brierley and Russell tell us in their own way that good people should be celebrated everywhere. To 03-10-15.

Elizabeth Halpin



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