The Adventures of Sharkman is a hilarious superhero parody with an aquatic twist.
I think I’m in love.
‘The Adventures of Sharkman’, written and directed by Jasper Cresdee-Hyde and Jake Rose, has been a long time in the making. When the ending credits roll, it’s over footage of the original Sharkman comics that Cresdee-Hyde wrote and illustrated thirteen years ago. ‘The Adventures of Sharkman’ is clearly a labour of love, but it’s more than that – it stands on its own as a radio play and is frankly exhilarating.
Cresdee-Hyde, Rose, and Producer Vicky Chiu have assembled the cast of thousands necessary for a superhero story on this scale – that is, not quite thousands, but 23 voice actors who all manifest striking and memorable characters even when they only appear for a moment. The star of the show is of course Louis George’s loveable Sharkman, a washed-up superhero desperate to relive his glory days while his films flop and his career goes south. We meet him watching his old TV show with his robot companion, G-REG (brilliantly voiced by Callum Mcleod and James Rodgers), when his ex-wife Karen (Chani Merrell) arrives to drop off their daughter. Zoey (Leila Lawrence) and Sharkman struggle to connect. She’s obviously embarrassed by him – he does have a shark-shaped head – and he’s distracted by the grandeur of his past. But suddenly the father-daughter pair are threatened by another superhero of aquatic origin, and Sharkman has the opportunity to do again what he misses most – saving the world.
The threat is Libby Thornton’s exquisitely evil Seaweed Man and his son Seaweed Boy (Clancy Peiris Jr), squelching in to endanger the citizens of Sharkman’s hometown Ocean City. Cresdee-Hyde and Rose’s writing shines in action sequences like the first clash between hero and villain. The combination of dialogue, music, and sound effects along with William Batty’s pitch-perfect narration makes for thrilling moments that would not be possible in any medium but radio. Cresdee-Hyde and Rose seem conscious of the finer points of both audio storytelling and the superhero genre and use this wholly to their advantage. ‘The Adventures of Sharkman’ is also impressively well-paced, slowing down when Sharkman finds unexpected solace in janitor and Sharkman fan Emily (Amy Lever).
‘The Adventures of Sharkman’ stands out with its humour, with some brilliant satire on entertainment conglomerates and franchise culture and excellent one-liners. I’m still smiling about ‘out of nowhere comes Seaweed Boy – like Seaweed Man, but a boy!’ Equally important to this production’s wit and warmth is Thomas Field’s original score. It really is beyond me how wonderful this music is. It is perfectly integrated into the action, from the soaring (and very catchy) opening credits to little audio gags like Sharkman’s ringtone being his own theme song.
I guess it’s too much to hope that ‘The Adventures of Sharkman’ will return next week, what with its gentle mockery of superhero franchises that run on past their prime. But Cresdee-Hyde and Rose have done some skilful worldbuilding here that is brought to life by fantastic performances and production, and for that they should be proud. I’m a really, really big fan.