Superjohn (3 stars)

This article is from 2012.


Plucky superhero fights for survival in sensitively-portrayed kids' theatre show

Creating a show about a child in need of a bone marrow transplant was never going to be easy. It’s a subject most children don’t really understand, and parents don’t want to think about.

It’s part of life, however, and if you’re going to tackle such potentially depressing material, then this is probably the way to go about it. Despite being confined to a hospital bed, the eponymous John manages huge leaps of the imagination, journeying on a quest to find the magic ‘orb’ (aka wellness).

On one level, this is a sensitive portrayal of how illness affects the entire family – from the emotionally drained single mum, to the troubled sister who just wants things to be normal (and isn’t too keen on being a bone marrow donor, either),

But in order to elevate this to a child-friendly level, a dramatic (but not always entirely clear) metaphor evolves, incorporating an evil Blood Queen and a ‘field of flowers’ (good bone marrow).

For the most part, the energetic cast keep the show coasting at a decent pace, but at an hour and fifteen minutes, it’s just too long.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 27 Aug, 11.25am, £9--£10 (£7.50--£8.50).



  • 3 stars

Superjohn loves to fly through outer space. But one day… crash! His superpowers are stolen and he has to travel to a dangerous world to get them back. Come and join us in the Quirkiest Hospital on the Planet, jump into The Field of Flowers, seep into The Magical World of Bloodbone, Laugh with Betty and Bill, Fight Heama…

Elsewhere on the web


1. Annie Marcuson5 Aug 2012, 7:41pm Report

A funny and moving show. This difficult subject is communicated with such joy that, for all it's metaphor, it is very accessible. A beautiful and clever way to introduce children to the not so nice things in life. And an important tribute to all the amazing people who work with the terminally ill and to the bravery of the children and families involved.

"That show was was so cool...I loved Haema's dress. Dogby couldn't go though the arch, could he?...why couldn't he?...(Maybe he was too weak? I suggest)...maybe he died....Oh.....(Scarlett and Izzie's post show conversation, aged 9)

Post a comment

RSS feed of these comments