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Review: Captain Amazing at the Live Theatre, Newcastle

Alistair McDowall's play, performed wonderfully by Mark Weinman, returns to Tyneside after sell out runs in Edinburgh and London

****
Mark Weinman as Captain Amazing at Live Theatre
Mark Weinman as Captain Amazing at Live Theatre

As with all the best superheroes, Captain Amazing’s real life alter-ego is someone who you quite easily walk past without noticing - aside from the red cape of course.

Mark works at B&Q without any kind of enthusiasm for home improvement. He gets drunk and tries to talk to people in nightclubs - often having the last dance with the pavement rather than any object of his affections.

He lives in a house with one chair and some curtains which were there when he moved in.

You get my drift. Mark doesn’t have a life which many would aspire to.

By contrast, Captain Amazing’s conjured existence is non-stop excitement.

When he’s not defeating the perhaps unimaginatively christened ‘Evil Man’, he’s berating Batman over a beer for not having any super powers and for just being ‘a billionaire who likes leather’. And that’s to say nothing of his in-flight catch ups with Superman.

Mark’s double life comes together though, when someone does stop to look twice and goes on to fall in love with him... making him want to get an extra chair.

Now part of a couple, it’s not long before the aforementioned loner becomes a bona fide family man... and his daughter Emily is in no doubt that her daddy really is Captain Amazing.

Even when sadness and tragedy strike into the heart of the family.

Following its Live Theatre debut last year, Middlesbrough writer Alistair McDowall’s play, which uses Rebecca Glover’s charming cartoon illustrations to great effect, has enjoyed a sell out run at the Edinburgh Fringe and a successful residency at London’s Soho Theatre. It’s not hard to see why.

Mark Weinman’s skilful one-man turn, which involves him taking responsibility for all sides of all conversations between each and every one of the aforementioned characters - and more besides, is a memorable one which combines humour and poignancy to explore the potential for hilarity, hope and heartbreak, which comes built in with parenthood.

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