On any given Saturday morning in 1978 Jonathan Yeo could be found staring at the television like a deranged owl. There were three hours of cartoons to monitor, and somewhere in the middle would be Superfriends, his favourite, featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and those irritating Wonder Twins.

I really loved them, Yeo explains over coffee. But what I liked best about the Superfriends was the Hall of Justice. They had that great austere environment and I loved the committee idea.

A couple of years ago I was thinking about superheroes and how they’re all American. It struck me -“ what would Australian superheroes be like? If they were Australian and they did get together, it would so push towards apathy.

And so Yeo’s latest play The Altruists was born, and set in Sydney. Yeo’s heroes include Levitator, The Tigress, Tornado and Flyboy, and he offers a deeply tongue-in-cheek look at the superhero lifestyle.

Yeo wrote the play on a recent writing holiday in Europe and South America, a return to theatre after working in script development for film and television.

As so often happens, being overseas brought the Emerald City into sharp relief, and the play became very Sydney.

Without giving too much away, there are obviously a couple of gay characters, Yeo said. I was really interested in that whole idea of Sydney as a gay city and I really wanted to explore that through superhero characters.

The Incredibles it ain’t -“ but Yeo promises there will be appropriately ludicrous costuming.

Who decided that superheroes needed to be decked out in lycra -“ especially considering how most of their powers don’t involve muscular strength? Yeo said.

But don’t worry, you’re gonna see some lycra -¦ You can’t promise lycra and not deliver.

The Altruists opens this Friday night and runs until 20 February at the Downstairs Theatre, 25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills. Phone 9699 3444 or visit www.thealtruists.com for more information.

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