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Mr Millennium: Issue No.1
Published on Monday, 27 August 2012
2

2 stars

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall (venue website)
Cabaret
3-4, 6-11, 13-18 Aug, 6:10pm-6:55pm; 20-25 Aug, 7:10pm-7:55pm
Reviewed by Lee Zhao

 Recommended for age 14+ only.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

David Kingsmill, the mastermind behind Hitler! The Musical last year, in back in Edinburgh with a show that was conceived two months before the start of the Festival as a last-minute replacement when his original plans fell through. I’m not revealing any insider information there; this fact is printed, rather bravely, in the programme. Although the circumstances may elicit some sympathy, they unfortunately do not excuse what is ultimately a disappointing experience.

In this one-man show, Kingsmill plays Mr. Millennium, a superhero with a rather dull power: the ability to tune into radio frequencies, including those of the emergency services. The whole superhero-with-odd-superpower thing has been toyed with by countless improv troupes across the world, but Kingsmill goes all in. The aforementioned programme contains a glossy ten-page comic with his origin story, and he's clad head to toe in an outrageous yellow and purple Lycra superhero outfit.

And then Kingsmill hits his creation with a large dose of reality. For example, his character has to use public transport to reach his destination since he cannot fly. I am not sure if I was supposed to find Mr. Millennium complaining about his tough existence as a superhero funny, or whether I was genuinely supposed to feel for his plight. If it was the former, and Mr. Millennium: Issue No. 1 was intended to be a parody of a one-man biographical show, then it lacked the element of farce that most comic treatments have (and need, in order to avoid the show coming across as slightly insensitive to real people with real problems). And if nothing else, it just needs more jokes.

If it was the latter, and Mr. Millennium: Issue No. 1 is inviting us to seriously analyse the practical real-life implications of being a superhero, then that exposes gaping holes in the script. For example, our hero complains about his suffocating and uncomfortable costume and yet insists he cannot fight crime in something more practical. He sings about meeting and being mocked by the Avengers and yet later runs afoul of Marvel Comics over copyright. And as with virtually every superhero, once you think too much, Mr. Millennium is nothing more than a meddling vigilante (albeit with a universal radio) and thus probably deserves all his problems with the authorities. It certainly is not clear to me just how much disbelief I should suspend. Just how far down the rabbit-hole should I go?

These problems are symptomatic of a half-baked concept. It seems that with the show being formulated in two months, too much time was spent on the superficial and too little on the content. Nor does it help that Kingsmill's strongest talents lie somewhere other than acting: his delivery is quite flat and despite being dressed in a superhero outfit, he lacks stage presence.

There's perhaps enough material here for one or two good comic sketches with this character, but stretching it out to a full-length show exposes just how threadbare the idea of deconstructing a superhero is.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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