Wednesday, 16 July 2014

We Will Rock You?

Nabbing a ticket just weeks before We Will Rock You was due to leave the West End, I was excited to see exactly what it was all about. I'd never seen the production before, and wouldn't exactly call myself a Queen fan, but had been promised by numerous people that it was definitely worth a watch. 

I was disappointed. 

Elton creates a futuristic setting: a time when everyone dresses the same, speaks the same, and listens to the same music. Instruments are banned. But, in the depths of iPlanet, the Bohemians are opposing this characteristic cloning and and take it upon themselves to find the one remaining instrument on the planet. They bring back rock. 

Anticipating the start of the show

Of course a musical which is created on the premise of stringing together a load of Queen hits is likely to have haphazard plot, but this was just too arbitrary and tenuous for my liking. I didn't go and see We Will Rock You for an intelligent and complex story, but equally I didn't go to see a Queen tribute band. For me, the most glaring flaws did lie in the written musical, rather than the performed one. As a long time fan of Ben Elton's writing, I expected something a little more credible; I was frankly surprised that he had written a musical which seemed to be so lacking in conviction, and had a sub-plot as simple and narrow as a superficial romance. 

However, credit where credit is due. Brenda Edwards played a brilliant Killer Queen. Consistently astounded by the power and depth in her voice, Edwards' talent is undeniable. Coupled with extraordinary dynamism, and an excellent portrayal of a sassy dictator, the Killer Queen proved a solid grounding for both the cast, and musical as a whole. Comparatively, our heroes Galileo (Oliver Tompsett) and Scaramouche (Rachael Wooding) were somewhat lacklustre, unable to offer the same exhilaration as their enemy. Our Bohemian friends Meat (Amanda Coutts) and Brit (Rolan Bell) were of great support to Galileo and Scaramouche, spicing up their roles (and their romance). They were central in injecting humour, dusting commendably current jokes over the entirety of the show. This combination of some really strong, and some fairly weak, acting - but unanimously incredible singing - gave rise to a very mixed performance. 

All in all, We Will Rock You was ok. But just ok. It's clearly a very high budget show, and the staging, lighting and effects were undoubtedly spectacular. It isn't enough, however, to throw money at a show with such a weak storyline and a disappointing calibre of acting. Perhaps I would have appreciated the show for what it is a little more if I were an unrelenting Queen fan, but as it stands - We Will Rock You was an empty promise. 


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