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Review: Captain Amazing (Southwark Playhouse)

Review by Rosie Holmes




Captain Amazing celebrates its 10th anniversary with a new revival at London’s Southwark Playhouse. In just over 60 minutes we are introduced to Mark, part-time sales assistant and part-time superhero, in a funny and poignant exploration of the complexities of existence. With quite the name to live up to, I was keen to see if the show itself would be quite as amazing as its titular Captain.


In a one-man show performed by Mark Weinman, we follow B&Q salesman, conveniently also named Mark. At first appearing downtrodden and lonely, we see him begin a relationship and then unexpectedly become a father to his little girl, Emily.  His daughter is inquisitive and becomes more and more knowing, while Mark experiences grief and escapes to a world of fantasy. Interspersed with scenes of Mark’s life as Dad, salesman, and husband, are vignettes featuring Captain Amazing, a superhero whoa hangs out with Batman and saves the world from Evil Man by shooting from through his eyes. These scenes provide plenty of comedy, a particular highlight being Batman’s shrunken costume. Yet for every comedic escape to the world of Captain Fantastic, Mark’s experiences of being a dad become more and more poignant.

With a fairly blank canvas for a set and just one man on stage, for Mark Weinman there really is nowhere to hide. Yet all this does is showcase Weinman’s stunning performance and extraordinary range, He seamlessly switches between almost a dozen character’s, showing his skill for voicework, nimbly changing voices as he narrates conversations sometimes between whole groups of people. He is both laugh-out loud and able to bring you to tears just moments later, creating heartbreakingly beautiful moments of tenderness.


Alistair McDowall’s script is disorientating at first, it taking me a few moments to settle into the rhythm of the piece, yet it quickly becomes pacy and poignant. Even 10 years after its first performance, the script stands out as an exceptionally fresh and engaging exploration of men’s mental health and the transformative power of fatherhood. The superhero becomes an impactful metaphor throughout, the cape a symbol of comfort and shielding from the real world which many will relate to.

Set design is by Georgia de Grey, and upon arrival the audience are met with a white-papered, fairly bare set, save for one red chair. Yet as the play progresses, key lines from the play become etched on the papered set in projected handwriting, childlike in its form. The large speech bubbles that appear, comic-book like, are a nice reference to the play’s superhero theme. The set becomes more and more crowded and muddled by parts from the story, indecipherable and frantic, a metaphor perhaps for the complexities and noises within our minds. The finale is backdropped by a breath-taking set reveal that, though simple, really does make an impact, highlighting the need for hope.


Captain Amazing is a piece that handles some big topics, though it covers grief and questions of existence, it also provides joy, hope and plenty of laughs. The script itself is wonderful, but Mark Weinman’s performance elevates this show to something very special. Brimming with poignancy and thoroughly engaging throughout, this is show that I hope will still be playing to audiences in another 10 years’ time.


Captain Amazing plays at Southwark Playhouse until Saturday 25th May 2024, tickets and more information can be found here  - Captain Amazing - Southwark Playhouse


Photos by Ali Wright



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