Review: Captain Amazing – Southwark Playhouse

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Hilarious, heart wrenching one man show

I would be lying if I said I didn’t find the first few minutes of Alistair McDowell’s Captain Amazing to be slightly disorientating, if not still very funny. But after this brief teething period, I was able to fall into step and appreciate the genius of this hilarious, heart-wrenching one man show, writes Caitlin Odell.  

Setting pace from minute one, Mark Weinman morphs seamlessly into a plethora of characters, delivering bursts of rapid dialogue in different voices without so much as flinching. From the mother of his child who he meets for the first time on his shift at B&Q, to his young daughter Emily who is wise beyond her years, Weinman’s ability to shapeshift so convincingly is Captain Amazing’s best superpower. This of course, wouldn’t be possible without the excellent script, which is searingly funny whilst managing to handle a number of commonplace domestic woes without a hint of cliché.  

Mark is a subdued and, seemingly, depressed man whose disillusion with reality is causing him to disassociate. His one-note existence as boyfriend, father and husband paints him as man of simple pleasures. But every time he checks out, catapulting us into the world of Captain Amazing, we see that this is a man who feels stifled by the confines of the cards he’s been dealt in life. 

An alarmingly insular existence (symbolised in his barren, cell-like flat) is totally at odds with the life he has created for himself as Captain Amazing. In between fulfilling his (ambiguous) superhero duties, he attends regular summits where he enjoys camaraderie and beer-drinking with other iconic superheroes, as well pursuing his dream of upsizing by attending property viewings. 

But, as time goes on, the two worlds begin to bleed into one another. Once a place for Mark to escape to and live out the fantasy of his unrealised potential (all whilst securing gripping material for his daughter’s bedtime stories), the world of Captain Amazing begins to consume Mark, leaving him untethered from reality.  

This confusion of worlds is visualised nicely as the sparse white backdrop becomes cluttered overtime with projected cartoon-like scribblings, the only thing this show could hide behind in the way of a set. But of course, it doesn’t. This brave and hugely ambitious performance from Mark Weinman captures the psyche of a vulnerable, misunderstood middle aged man whose chosen vice for the struggles of adult life, is his imagination.  

Southwark Playhouse Borough, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London, SE1 6BD until 25th May. Times:  Mon – Sat 8pm; Tues & Sat matinees 3.30pm. Admission: £24, £19.



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