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Matthew Radway - Super Interview

Starring Max Dowler (Line of Duty, BBC; Emmerdale, ITV) as Rick and Edinburgh-born Charlie Vero Martin (Sketch Off 2023 and Funny Women Comedy Writing Award2021 finalist) as CatherineSuper sees two not-very-super heroes share their story of ambition, love and overwhelming failurePresented by RBM Comedy and written and directed by Matthew Radway (BBC Audio Award-winning, Please Use Other Door, BBC Radio 4)Super is inspired by a true fascination surrounding uncanny heroes and developed from interviews with the real people behind the masks.

Super is for anyone who has kept tabs on the successes of the people they went to school with and the people they started in the industry withIt’s for anyone who has fela stab of inadequacy or panic at their Facebook feed of acquaintances’ personal and professional mile stones. This new dark comedy, is inspired real people and true stories, is about acceptinthat everyone’s life happens uniquely at its own pace, and in its own way.Underlying Super is a sense of optimism in the face of overwhelming odds and seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Ahead of Super playing at the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe I spoke with writer Matthew Radway to learn more about the piece.

What inspired you to write your piece?
Many people find mega-famous celebrities quite fascinating, but I’ve always been far more interested in people who almost had fame or had fleeting fame. There’s something about an ‘almost ran’ or ‘has been’ character that just gets under my skin, particularly if they’re the kind to never give up or acknowledge the overwhelming odds against them. I find something quite inspiring about that. 

In 2009, I visited Hollywood Boulevard and that was the first time I saw actors dressed as superheroes posing for photos and I was hooked. I devoured documentaries about them, followed the actors on social media and talked about them incessantly. I then visited Los Angeles again last year and begun a series of interviews with the costumed characters. 

Have did you approach writing the piece?
I would say that most of my process involved procrastination. In fact, it took me 11 years to finish this play so that’s roughly 10 years and 6 months of procrastinating. In all seriousness, I’d been playing around with the idea and writing little bits of dialogue on and off, but it was only after my visit to Los Angeles last year that everything really clicked into place. After working out the story beats and structure, the first draft came together in about three days. There was then a cycle of writing a draft, doing a workshop or rehearsed reading, writing another draft and so on. 

What research did you have to do whilst writing the show?
Over the years I had watched quite a few videos and read articles but when it came to writing the play fully, I set off to interview actors out in LA. The process was eye-opening and completely changed the story I was going to tell. The most nerve-wracking interview I did was with actress Jennifer Wenger because I’d been aware of her since 2009. I had to pinch myself when she agreed to talk to me. Jennifer’s the original Hollywood Boulevard Wonder Woman! Overall, a lot of people were very generous with their time, and I couldn’t have written this without them.

If you had to dress as any of the superhero characters, who would you choose to dress as?
The characters in Super are dressed as Batman and Catwoman but neither are for me (I would constantly get capes stuck in doors and spandex isn’t my friend) so instead I would dress as Rorschach from Watchmen because his outfit is practical, but he still gets a cool mask. Having said that, the first photo on my website is me dressed as a cat so perhaps I can pull off spandex after all.

What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing the show?
I worry that going into the show, audiences might think that the play is going to punch down or laugh at the characters. Out-of-work actors dressed as superheroes sound like the butt of a joke. Whilst Super is a tragicomedy, and of course there are times we are invited to laugh at the characters, I hope that audiences will see their humanity and empathise with them.

What performances/shows have inspired you?
I’m going to go left-field with this question and give you a book instead. Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim by Justin Martell. It’s a biography of a man totally uniquely himself and completely committed to his art regardless of whether anyone else is. I think I’ll write about him next.

Can you describe the show in 3 words?
Very tight outfits.

Super plays at the Pleasance Courtyard (Cellar) at the Edinburgh Fringe from Wednesday 2nd until Monday 28th August 2023 (not 14th) at 1:45pm. Tickets are available from

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