Review: CAPTAIN AMAZING, Southwark Playhouse Borough

A small play with a huge heart

By: May. 07, 2024
Review: CAPTAIN AMAZING, Southwark Playhouse Borough
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Review: CAPTAIN AMAZING, Southwark Playhouse Borough Mark sits in a white box on a red chair. He is dressed in a grey t-shirt and jeans. With the exception of sporting a red cape, he is nondescript, ordinary, normal. In the next 65 minutes, we are taken on an emotional ride through Mark's experiences of love, parenthood and devastating loss, all while he flits between being a superhero and a very average man.

It's a decade since writer Alistair McDowell's one-man show took us away from the rather glib message that all dads are superheroes; rather that some dads are just trying their best with the limited emotional resources that they have. The message has lost none of its impact, in fact it resonates more with today's increased awareness of mental health and unseen emotional struggles.

Review: CAPTAIN AMAZING, Southwark Playhouse Borough

Short, sharp scenes, jumping between various domestic and fantasy scenes feel unconnected and almost disorientating to begin with, but gradually the production's aim becomes clearer. Mark is a man with little emotional engagement, moving through his life aimlessly and without purpose. An unlikely relationship and an accidental pregnancy challenges him to embrace a more 'normal' life. His alternative life as Captain Amazing is, perhaps, an escape, an alternative narrative and a way he can express himself.

Despite the character Mark's faults and failings, actor Mark Weinman makes him highly sympathetic, so that when the play reaches its heartbreaking climax, it is hard not to reach out to give him a hug. Weinman has nowhere to hide in this proudction and fully leans into every character, showing an extraordinary agility in jumping between characters at lighting speed. An arrogant estate agent for superheroes and Captain Amazing's nemesis Evil Man are highlights. He also brings daughter Emily vividly to life, with the constant questioning and intelligent observations of an inquisitive little girl.

Review: CAPTAIN AMAZING, Southwark Playhouse Borough

Director Clive Judd maintains pace and engagement throughout, sweeping the audience along with every emotion shown on stage. There is a lot of comedy, balanced with nuance and great poignancy.

Georgia de Grey's angular set is a textured white canvas upon which Will Monks' projections create cartoon-like animations and text that build up and overlap as the production progresses, showing the increasingly frantic state of Mark's mind; it is a powerful visual metaphor. 

A beautifully balanced and affecting play, let's hope it's not another ten years before we see it again.

Captain Amazing is at Southwark Playhouse, Borough until 25 May

Photo Credits: Ali Wright


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