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Super at Pleasance Courtyard (Cellar), 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh

I liked the uniqueness of this show – almost every other show involving superheroes I’ve seen at the Fringe involved a heavy suspension of disbelief, as the characters possessed some kind of supernatural ability, or so the audience was led to believe. Here, Rick (Max Dowler) and Catherine (Charlie Vero-Martin) tell the story of their marriage gone wrong. The audience sees them in costume, as Batman and Catwoman respectively. When they first met, their jobs, for want of a better word, were to hang around Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, in costume, and be nice to tourists, have conversations (in character) and selfies with them. It appears they were largely rewarded with tips.

SUPER - photo credit Karla Gowlett.
SUPER – photo credit Karla Gowlett.

Rick is one of those people that brings their whole selves to work, to the point where he doesn’t remember the actual names of his fellow actors, using their superhero aliases instead, with one notable exception. ‘Cat’, as he insists on calling Catherine, falls for his charms, according to Rick’s account. The play does well to provide the audience with Catherine’s own perspective on what happened, and it hardly takes a chartered psychologist to work out who is the more reliable narrator.

The show’s writer and director, Matthew Radway, has created credible characters – in the form of Rick and Catherine, for the avoidance of doubt – though markedly different people, the blame for their relationship not working out isn’t solely placed on one or the other. There are no superheroes once the costumes come off, but there are no villains that should be exterminated, destroyed or vaporised either. Most of the show comprises monologues, such that when they do finally appear together, that in itself becomes a twist in proceedings.

In one sense, the show is no different from any other that presents ‘his’ and ‘her’ sides to the same story – the events are the same, but how they are interpreted, or rather misinterpreted, is how the show derives much of its humour. Even their almost polar opposite reactions to an off-stage character leaving the Boulevard because they have more lucrative work lined up is revelatory.

Given the number of street performers in central Edinburgh during the Fringe season, the show might as well have been set in the Scottish capital. There’s something universal, too, about having dreams and ambitions. Rick’s larger-than-life sparkling personality added some zest to a surprisingly realistic superhero show. It’s unusual to be rooting for both characters in a failed marriage, but this nuanced and intriguing production makes that remarkably easy.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

When Rick (Batman) and Catherine (Catwoman) are interviewed about an old colleague who finally made it Big, the conversation keeps returning to their failed marriage and the story of how they all met. As tensions build, everything comes to a punchy end, and Rick’s whole life falls apart. Some might call his blind optimism delusion – but that doesn’t mean it’s not a lifesaving superpower.

Catherine Charlie Vero Martin
Rick Max Dowler
Writer / Director Matthew Radway
Notes Ages 16+, contains strong language and discussions of violence
Instagram @SuperThePlay #SuperPlay
Twitter @SuperThePlay #SuperPlay

Pleasance Courtyard (Cellar), 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ
Wednesday 2nd – Monday 28th August 2023

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