Book: Ben Elton
Director: Ben Elton
Reviewer: John Roberts
Ok let’s get the sticking point out of the way from the start – We Will Rock You has quite possibly the worst book in Musical Theatre History, not only is the plot so thin that you can see it with your eyes closed, but the script isn’t as witty or clever as Ben Elton thinks it is…however now that’s firmly out in the open, I can safely say once I sat back and ignored the writing I thoroughly enjoyed WWRY thanks to the highly energetic delivery from the strong cast.
Set in the future where music has been outlawed, two newly found bohemians (outcasts from the GaGa Kids) – Galileo (Noel Sullivan) & Scaramouch (Amanda Coutts) set out to bring down the Evil Killer Queen (Ashley J Russell) and her plan to rule the universe with C.R.A.P (Computer Recorded Automated Pop.) Helped along the way by fellow bohemians all who are named from Icons of Music History, Brittany Spears (Leon Lopez), Meat Loaf (Jenny Douglas), Robbie Williams, Bob the Builder and an ageing hippie ‘Pop’ played by Ian Reddington (A strong performance from an actor that is severely underused in a highly underwritten rôle.)
There is a very Post-Modernist retro feel about the whole show thanks to the set designed by Mark Fisher and the crazy but highly enjoyable costumes designed by Tim Goodchild: A good use of L.E.D Video screens are used as a constant backdrop for the short scenes that make up the production and are a nice nod back to the early days of MTV music videos.
It has to be said that Queen’s music is the real star of the show, and while it may seem that some tracks have been shoe-horned into the show, to get another “Top Hit” into the proceedings, they still shine as some of the best ‘Rock’ songs ever written. The songs are matched by a uniformly strong cast that carry the weight and emotion of the material brilliantly – While he may not be the best actor in the cast Noel Sullivan as hero Galileo has charm and more than proves himself vocally – a pleasant surprise. Jenny Douglas as Meat is a wonderful revelation – her strong natural Scottish accent being used to full force while her rendition of No-One but You (Only the Good Die Young) a true highlight of the evening; While Leon Lopez brings a great energy and tight vocals to the rôle of Brittney.
Ashley J Russell is strong as the Killer Queen, although for personal preference still seemed a little too nice to be truly terrifying. Amanda Coutts is superb in the rôle of Scaramouch, blending light comedy and dazzling vocals to a high level, this is clearly the start to a dazzling career! But for me the money lies in Earl Carpernter’s wonderfully deadpan and underplayed Commander Khashoggi – Carpenter owns the stage with such presence and gravitas that is rarely seen on stage – a clear old school professional showing the new generation how to do it.
While We Will Rock You isn’t the best musical on the block, it certainly isn’t the worst, yes it may be flawed but the performances and the music more than make up for it!