I Am Beast
Since the death of her mother, teenage Ellie has retreated into a world of her own imagination. She has created a vivid fantasy realm inhabited by clear-cut heroes and cackling villains and cast herself as Blaze, a superhero on a mission to save her friend and crime-fighting partner Silver from the clutches of an evil mastermind.
I am Beast has a strong visual identity, using puppetry and Tron-like neon visuals to create a comic book landscape, an antidote to the white world of grief. Lizzie Muncey gives a pleasingly peppy performance as Ellie and the scenes in which she does battle with the nefarious Doctor Oblivion are staged with a playfulness and invention.
But the two worlds never entirely gel. Though Sparkle and Dark have researched the piece by speaking to psychiatrists and therapists specialising in adolescence, Ellie’s means of escape from her pain feel a little over-simplified, the characters underdeveloped and the comic book world into which she enters too generic. Beneath all the shouting and kapow-ing, it does feel like there’s a more complex show to be had here about the ways in which young people deal with bereavement and the balm of the imagination, but it’s one we only see glimpses of.