Review Round Up: Black Superhero, Royal Court Theatre

We round up the reviews for Danny Lee Wynter’s play now playing at the Royal Court Theatre.

(c)Johan Persson

WhatsOnStage: *** “It is, however, beautifully served by a production confidently directed by Daniel Evans and designed with great flair by Joanna Scotcher. She sets the action in a series of pyramidical neon arches (lighting by Ryan Day) that both hold the daily life of the friends and allow a series of visionary events when King becomes Craw and appears in a dark leather cape, suspended from above like a mystical being.”

The Guardian: **** “The play’s story meanders – deliberately it seems – and does not have enough of a trajectory, while the writing is also unruly, rendering the play quite disjointed as a whole. But even in its failed moments it feels interesting, alive and edgy.”

West End Best Friend: **** “A funny, sexy, and ultimately poignant portrait of fragility in love. A truly visual spectacle and not one to miss.”

The Upcoming: **** “Director Daniel Evans and production designer Joanna Scotcher deserve a special mention for the cinematically striking moments they crafted together, with triangular neon structures signalling the beginning of a superhero fantasy, for instance, and masked characters suspended mid-air. The play, in fact, seems particularly alive in those liminal areas between fantasy and reality, from an enchanting sand cascade to an equally powerful and hilarious scene when David is asking for advice from two characters from one of King’s movies.”

iNews: *** “Yet for all the snappy exchanges between the friends, it remains frustratingly hard to determine exactly what lies at the core of each of them, when the braggadocio is stripped away. Far more convincing is the sibling bond between Syd and David, imbued with such a powerful sense of shared history, suffering and strength by Sandall and Wynter. It is this resolutely earthbound relationship that outshines the world of superheroes.”

The Telegraph: *** “Tackling romantic strife, virtue signalling, queerbaiting and more, Danny Lee Wynter’s flawed but ambitious play announces a talent to watch.”

Evening Standard: *** “Wynter’s writing is lively, full of punchy dialogue and quippy one-liners. No doubt from his own experience as an actor, he effectively captures a friendship group in gentle competition with one another, and which frequently disagrees on matters of identity politics, modes of queerness, blackness, and representation in art.”

The Arts Desk: ** “Despite this interesting material about identity and activism, Black Superhero is clumsy in its storytelling, and the good jokes don’t make up for the uncertain tone of the writing.”

Lost in Theatreland: **** “If the play’s obsession with pop culture and polemic can keep things operating on a more intellectual level, there are enough jokes, movement sequences and scene changes to keep it from growing stale, and the sexy, flirtatious nature of the whole keeps it moving at a generous pace. It’s a joy to see a production voice black and queer perspectives so clearly, skewering the bland virtue signalling of white liberal gays (I felt seen) and exploring the film world’s flawed treatment of race and sexuality with nuance and flair.”

Theatre Weekly: “A powerful debut from a very talented writer which revives traditional storytelling with an altogether more exciting and fresh approach.”

The Reviews Hub: *** 1/2 “Kinnetia Isidore and Ryan Day use costume and lighting to create a superhero motif on stage to which David is attracted and sometimes engages, although the fantasy element doesn’t quite work. Our need for superheroes and their role in Black masculinity perhaps isn’t fully worked through and Wynter has too many ideas for a single play, but he’s certainly not a secondary character anymore.”

There Ought to be Clowns: “Daniel Evans’ production has a delicious slickness to it: Joanna Scotcher’s angular set design full of layers and flying surprises; and Ryan Day’s lighting conjuring up striking and seductive atmospheres aplenty. And for all that I’ve said about the amount of debates, the meandering conversational vibe is so enjoyable to watch, laugh with and envy (unless your friends already look like that!).”

The Stage: *** “Spikily entertaining play about masculinity and representation with a Black queer focus and flights of the fantastical.”

Broadway World: *** “Despite its flaws, Daniel Evans’ crisp direction keeps the tone buoyant balancing the comedic elements with serious intrigue. Lee Wynter’s central performance is endearingly charming, effortlessly whipping up poignant rapport with Rochenda Sandall’s Syd, David’s fiery tongued sister, and Eloka Ivo’s nonchalantly scene-stealing Raheem.”

London Theatre1: *** “Subtlety is there none and that is the major thing that this show is crying out for: subtlety coupled with a sense of purpose.”

Black Superhero continues to play at the Royal Court Theatre until the 29th April.

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