Photo: Black Superhero. Side profile. Man in helmet and cape holding another man's head, who is kneeling

Black Superhero reviews

Reviews are coming in for Black Superhero at the Royal Court Theatre – the debut play from actor and playwright Danny Lee Wynter.

Danny Lee Wynter (The Normal Heart) stars in this new comedy drama, directed by outgoing Chichester Festival Theatre chief Daniel Evans.

The cast also includes US actor Dyllón Burnside, star of Ryan Murphy hit TV dramas Pose, American Horror Story and Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, alongside Eloka Ivo (Avenue 5), Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty), Ben Allen (Breeders), Dominic Holmes (Industry), and Ako Mitchell (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness).

Black Superhero is running at the Royal Court until 29 April 2023.

Black Superhero. Photo by Johan Persson

The play centres on three Black queer friends. One of them, King (Dyllón Burnside), is a Black, queer movie star who has the world at his feet, one is Raheem (Eloka Ivo), an up-and-coming actor, and finally David (Danny Lee Wynter), an actor whose career has so far only led him to working as a children’s party entertainer for his sister Syd (Rochenda Sandall).

David is in love with King, and after an unexpected encounter David plunges himself into a world of sex, drugs and hero worship in the hope of being rescued. That is, until fantasy and reality merge with devastating consequences.  

Black Superhero is designed by Olivier Award-winner Joanna Scotcher, with costume design by Kinnetia Isidore, lighting design by Ryan Day, sound design by Tingying Dong, movement direction by Gerrard Martin, and intimacy co-ordination by Yarit Dor. Matthew IIiffe is assistant director, Zoe Thomas-Webb is associate costume designer and costume supervisor.

Read reviews from the Evening Standard, Times and more, with more reviews to follow.

Book tickets to Black Superhero at the Royal Court Theatre in London

Black Superhero reviews

The Guardian

"Original queer drama with plenty of kapow"

"Part satire, part serious drama, Danny Lee Wynter’s story of gay love and acting slowly reveals its emotional powers"

"As they drink, fight, hit on each other and talk about their therapy sessions, it could spiral into navel-gazing self-indulgence, and sometimes does. Yet there is something vigorous about this ambitious play, however messy it may be."

"... the play explores sex, identity and race, though the swing between satire and serious drama is out of kilter, and the emotions only hit home in the second half."

"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."

"The emotional force comes in the later scenes... You wish the play had switched to this final gear earlier but there is enough intelligence and originality to make this a seductive debut."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Evening Standard

"Debut play is flawed but audacious and inventive"

"Actor Danny Lee Wynter’s debut play is lively, full of punchy dialogue and quippy one-liners"

"Black Superhero, the debut play from Olivier award-nominated actor and activist Danny Lee Wynter, feels simultaneously flawed, audacious, and inventive."

"Wynter’s writing is lively, full of punchy dialogue and quippy one-liners."

"Amid all this, Wynter’s play feels a bit like it’s dipping its toe into two pools, but not quite taking the plunge into either. On the one hand, there’s David’s story, which is a compelling one...On the other hand, there are discussion-based scenes which introduce themselves early on and don’t quite mesh with the actual story."

"The cast is also uniformly good, but still I found myself yearning to be brought deeper into David’s psyche. This does eventually come, along with an appropriate but abrupt shift in tone, leading to an ending that nearly fulfils its emotional potential. Nevertheless, Wynter’s voice is an exciting one, and Black Superhero a unique exploration of blackness, queerness, and mental health."

Farah Najib, The Evening Standard
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"Danny Lee Wynter writes and stars in this messy but very funny dark comedy about a man embarking on an ill-advised affair with his superstar friend"

"It’s a sprawling and mercurial play that frequently feels like it could have done with a round or two more with a dramaturg. But Daniel Evans’s production is given a sense of coherence by Wynter’s wickedly funny writing – some of the more genuinely outrageous one-liners bring the house down – and also Wynter’s own grounding performance."

"The main problem with ‘Black Superhero’ is that it doesn’t know if it wants to be a gritty, intimate small-scale dark comedy about a complicated group of gay Black friends, or a much bigger, sweeping showbiz satire thing"

"I can’t help but feel there are perhaps two separate plays here, or one that would have been stronger with a lot more delineation of David’s and King’s stories. (For what it’s worth, the fact that the show is directed by a white man – which it seems likely David would disapprove of – feels under-interrogated.)"

"‘Black Superhero’ is messy and over-ambitious, but it’s empathetic and perceptive. Crucially, it’s also funny and entertaining"

Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
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The Times

"A bundle of slogans and clichés"

"Surely someone could have seen, early on, that Danny Lee Wynter’s overwrought psychodrama about gay culture, race and representation was a bundle of slogans and clichés."

"... Dyllón Burnside, best known for his TV roles in Dahmer and Pose. His performance has the poise and nuance that the script so fatally lacks."

"Just when it seems that the script might show signs of cohering, Wynter inserts fantasy sequences in which David is confronted by Craw and his acolytes.. Evans adds a few flourishes elsewhere, including an impressive cascade of sand towards the close. But by the end, you leave feeling you have been eavesdropping on an overlong therapy session."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Stage

"Erratically engaging and often very funny"

"Spikily entertaining play about masculinity and representation with a Black queer focus and flights of the fantastical"

"They say not all heroes wear capes, and in Danny Lee Wynter’s buoyant, authorial debut, a man facing the midlife crossroads of his 40th birthday must search for his saviour in places he doesn’t expect – not least, inside himself."

"Directed with verve by Daniel Evans, Wynter’s play... is a mischievous mix of identity politics and pop culture focused on the Black queer experience. Its bantering tone and fantastical elements ensure that issue-heavy conversations never turn didactic or over-earnest, but there’s also a slightly scattershot quality to the writing: erratically engaging, and often very funny, it never musters quite enough momentum or heft."

"It’s all even more broadly sketched than the kind of comic book that King’s alter ego might have stepped out of. Yet if Wynter’s play lacks dramatic muscle, it wears a thoughtful expression beneath its mask – and it’s spikily entertaining."

Sam Marlowe, The Stage
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i News

"Fierce, frank exploration of black masculinity"

"Danny Lee Wynter’s uneven but snappy debut play revolves around a struggling actor who embarks on an affair with his more successful friend"

"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."

Fiona Mountford, i News
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The Telegraph

"A witty debut in which storytelling loses out to ideology"

"Tackling romantic strife, virtue signalling, queerbaiting and more, Danny Lee Wynter's flawed but ambitious play announces a talent to watch"

"This central idea is complicated by themes circling white liberal virtue signalling, celebrity, black queer representation, positive discrimination, queerbaiting, the pressure on successful black people to be public role models and the tendency for white people to be titillated by black victim stories. If that seems like a lot of freight for one small play to ferry, it’s beautifully but only partially counterbalanced by Wynter’s theatrical superpowers"

"As enjoyable as the wisecracking agenda-setting is, it doesn’t add up to a coherent character arc or satisfying plot resolution in the second half... Nevertheless, I’m excited to see what Wynter does next."

Dzifa Benson, The Telegraph
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📷 Main photo: Black Superhero. Photo by Johan Persson

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