A wildly unique genre blend of disaster romcom and meta-Matrix action, flawlessly executed through a one-man show, Catching Comets blazes onto the Hope Mill Theatre stage this March as part of its 2022 UK tour.

Writer Piers Black delivers a blockbuster meditation on love and masculinity amidst the timeless threat of an imminent apocalypse, proving along the way that no amount of existential horror can compare with the fear of failing to impress your crush.

After a celebrated Edinburgh Fringe run in 2019, and a transfer to London’s Pleasance Theatre last year, Black—whose Ransack Theatre Company are collaborating with Beyond Equality, a charity working with boys and men to promote gender equality—will introduce Manchester to faux-hero Toby (performed by Alastair Michael), who recounts the moment he saw an enormous earthbound comet.

Topically enough, people brush off his frantic warnings and in a panic, he becomes the archetypal rippling figure of all-out machismo, against a backdrop spilling over with dated action tropes: shades, choppers and wanton violence. Unfortunately for Toby, that includes a girl, which is where his bravado instantly unravels, and separate tales of alpha world-saving and the clumsy vulnerability of love become entangled.

What follows is a profoundly relatable and funny interrogation of how true bravery should be defined, especially in a modern age of advanced attitudes which Black says allows him to look back and realise that the stereotypical action heroes of his childhood were actually “terrible role models”. Toby opens up to the audience about insecurities that men have always faced—love, strength, admiration—but which clash with the image he’s committed to maintaining.

Described as a “deeply intimate story of universal proportions” in Broadway World’s four-star review, Catching Comets is a culturally relevant parody of masculinity’s tired, pressure-laden rap sheet that soars along in pursuit of what it really means to be a man. Thankfully, a six-pack seems to be the wrong answer.

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A Manchester Wire Partnership post
Mon 7 Mar, Hope Mill Theatre,
113 Pollard St, Manchester M4 7JA
Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Wed 2 Mar 2022