EFR - Reviews of Mr Millennium: Issue No.1

Mr Millennium: Issue No.1

Tue 7th – Sat 25th August 2012

reviews

Ettie Bailey-King

at 23:47 on 13th Aug 2012

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In this one-man show about a superhero who cannot fly, it is rather apt that the story itself never quite gets off the ground.

You could be forgiven for wondering whether Mister Millenium is a comedy, tragedy, drama or farce (after an hour, I still didn’t know). The problem is that actor, writer and musical director David Kingsmill doesn’t seem to know either. Kingsmill is a talented performer, but he has devised a piece that makes it virtually impossible to see this. His excellent voice is lost upon rather tuneless songs, his acting abilities never pushed beyond ‘mild distress’ and ‘mild regret’. However fantastical this superhero piece may seem, it invokes a promise of epic, spandex-clad drama that it cannot quite deliver.

The central idea - that of a superhero who is not so super – initially seems brilliant. Yet the whole piece plays like a joke that has run out of steam. The format (Kingsmill alone on stage, with only his yellow-and-purple-lycra jumpsuit for company) is so stark as to be unforgiving. The monologues need to be punchy, dazzling even to make up for it, but Kingsmill’s jokes are profoundly middle-of-the-road. He throws predictable, entirely amusing comments such as "superheroes seem to be where they’re needed… but I have to take public transport" or "you never see Spiderman sweating [in his lycra], do you?" into the mix, but doesn’t inject the requisite sense of character or credibility to plug their comic potential. His tone is three parts wistful to one part lethargic, which not only flattens out the structure of the entire performance into indistinguishable sections, but kills some excellent jokes in their tracks.

‘Mister Millennium’ might be played as a heartbreakingly pathetic everyman, or an obnoxious and unpitiable fool, but Kingmsill’s failure to commit, to decide exactly who this un-hero is, just leaves us speculating on what might have been.

As a result, Kingsmill’s great wit and searing insights slip through the cracks. He tentatively offers up some meta-dramatical musings (a prank caller is "another f***ing actor’…’they’re so f***ing convincing") but it’s not exactly Hamlet. He declaims his fragility for all to hear, calls himself "human … but different" and asks "will you have me as the flawed individual I am?" If, on the one hand, the acting is too delicate, the script itself veers in the opposite direction, and ladles out its spectacularly unsubtle message for all to see.

Kingsmill battles on, against the odds, salvaging a watchable performance from an utterly banal script. There is a brief glimmer of brilliance late in the show when ‘Mr. Millennium’ turns evil. he comes close to becoming – if not the complex and tortured figure suggested by his many sad soliloquys – then, at the very least, interesting. Perhaps, you could argue, ‘Mister Millennium’ is meant to be boring. perhaps his lacklustre lines ingeniously reflect his lacklustre career as a superhero. But even boredom ‘for a purpose’ is too much to ask. The audience deserves more and David Kingsmill owes himself more.

You get the sense that Kingsmill has real talent, stage presence, musicality, and an astute kind of wit struggling to get out from behind the dusty jokes. But if he can unleash something bigger, bolder and braver then we’ll have something of superhero proportions. That said, as ‘Mr. Millennium’ reminds us, if you do insist upon ripping off the dull Clark Kent exterior to reveal the Superman suit beneath…you end up ruining a lot of good shirts.

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Jessica Reid

at 10:03 on 14th Aug 2012

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Considering that only five spectators turned up to watch Mr Millennium, its solo performer David Kingsmill had an uphill struggle in his attempts to penetrate the flat atmosphere, which was a shame. It was particularly unfortunate as the majority of the show relies on audience interaction as Mr Millennium, the titular superhero, addresses and questions the spectators.

Kingsmill, the creator and actor, claims he is playing a superhero. However, it is not until the final song, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Evil’, that the character appears to be any different from the pleasant and unassuming actor. The show is a musical about a superhero exasperated with society and resentful his lack of respect. Kingsmill appears to use his superhero disguise as a means to gently complain about the mundane elements of life. Ironically, he points out that Mr Millennium’s powers are not particularly impressive and that he pales in comparison to more well-known superheroes – “I have to use public transport” he says. In fact, Kingsmill makes numerous references to other superheroes and characters. Perhaps this would appeal to connoisseurs of graphic novels, but for myself, with my ignorance of the genre, it was just boring. The character fails to be intriguing or witty or even an especially dramatic storyteller.

The songs have some positive moments such as clever rhyming and a good range of notes. However, the melodies are uninspiring. Kingsmill is also hindered by his vocal qualities; while his voice has a strong range, it is not especially powerful. ‘Save The World’ is the most memorable song and even that owes its appeal to the idea of it being so bad it's good.

The whole show seems to be very unoriginal in its concept (a musical about a failed superhero) and a bit dull in execution. While Kingsmill gives an ok performance, the show fails to captivate.

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