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Captain Amazing at Southwark Playhouse | Review

In the comic book world, Captain Amazing is the alter ego of billionaire lawyer Lance Hunt, the premiere hero of Champion City, where he has eliminated major villains. His suit (cape) displays logos from various firms eager to associate with him.

In Alastair McDowall’s one-person 65-minute play of the same name, Mark, the would-be unassuming super-hero, and possessor of a bright red cape, actually works in B&Q. It attempts to tell of the the transformative power of fatherhood, everyday acts of courage and how even the invincible aren’t immune to tragedy.

Captain Amazing Production - Photo by Ali Wright.
Captain Amazing Production – Photo by Ali Wright.

When the audience enters the auditorium it finds Mark (Mark Weinman) already on stage, a white patchwork affair designed by Georgia de Grey, onto whose walls are gradually added words and phrases in scrawling projected writing, as if to emphasise the piece’s roots in the world of comics.

Weinman was Mark in the original Newcastle and Edinburgh Fringe productions over ten years ago. Since then there has been a plethora of one-person plays, and what seemed fresh and exciting then is not perhaps as innovative today. Weinman has tremendous energy and works supremely hard playing a multitude of characters besides Captain Amazing, especially Mark’s daughter Emily who is particularly believable and has at times great pathos, even if she is irritating, forever asking ‘why’! Weinman is able to switch between roles at a moment’s notice, for example from Evil Man to awkward B and Q customer, and whilst the first part of the play is very physical and at times amusing, the writing gradually gets darker until it is quite tragic and pathetic.

The director of this revival, as well as the original production, is Clive Judd, creating terrific pace at times, as well as peace and tranquillity at others. He and Weinman find as much variety as possible in the script, aided by quick lighting changes (design Will Monks) such as the transition from the real world to caped crusader shown by flashes from brilliant white to oranges, reds and blues, building to a beautifully lit crescendo. Effective sound design is by Asaf Zohar.

At its best, the play brings out the real pain of a man continually struggling and fighting for his family, but realising that at some point he will have to hang up his cape and not be there for them.
3 Star Review

Review by John Groves

‘What do you do as Captain Amazing?’

‘Fight… baddies and things. Save people… make people go to bed when they’re supposed to go to bed…’

Join Mr… no… CAPTAIN Amazing, the world’s most unassuming superhero in Alistair McDowall’s critically-acclaimed masterpiece.

From battling his arch-nemesis Evil Man, to getting his daughter to school on time, discover what compelled this DIY store sales assistant to first don the cape and follow him into his final mission – the hardest one of all.

CAST
Mark Weinman

CREATIVES
Clive Judd – DIRECTOR
Georgia De Grey – DESIGNER
Will Monks – LIGHTING AND PROJECTION DESIGNER
Asaf Zohar – COMPOSER & SOUND DESIGNER
Laura Whittle – DSM
Multitude Media – PR
Cup of Ambition – MARKETING
Madison Coby Studio – GRAPHIC DESIGN
Matthew Schmolle Productions – PRODUCER
Lewis Champney – PRODUCTION MANAGER (FOR STAGE)

MATTHEW SCHMOLLE PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTION OF
CAPTAIN AMAZING
BY ALISTAIR MCDOWALL
1 – 25 MAY 2024
https://southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/

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Author

  • John Groves

    John Groves studied singing with Robert Easton and conducting with Clive Timms. He was lucky enough to act in the British premiere of a Strindberg play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe more years ago than he cares to remember, as well as singing at the Royal Opera House - once! He taught drama and music at several schools, as well as examining the practical aspects of GCSE and A level drama for many years. For twenty five years he has conducted a brass band as well as living on one of the highest points of East Sussex surrounded by woodland, deer, foxes and badgers, with kites and buzzards flying overhead.

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