It is a musical. Which could be a movie.
…What happens when you cross….
- Star Wars
- Dr Who
- Demolition Man
- 2000 AD
- King Arthur
…With the music of QUEEN?
A ruddy good romp, is what!
Ben Elton devised the pitch years ago: Rock music banned in a far off future, where technology has displaced rather than enhanced freedoms. Cue a rising rebellion, a phoenix from ashes band of believers who join together to take down the evil oppressors.
- So you get a nice romantic adventure (callow youth messiah in waiting meets beautiful girl; older mentor dude helps them fight the good fight).
- Via some genuinely biting satire.
- All spliced together, c/o the catchiest tunes in the universe. A rock-opera / popera.
It is easy to be sceptical. Cynical, even. As Jonathan Ross once joked ‘someone stop Ben Elton from visiting the gweatest hits section in HMV’.
And yes, Elton can be hit and miss as a writer.
- At his best? Ben is a visionary: GASPING, for example. An ahead of its time satire on environmental policy vs corporate power.
- I saw that play, on stage, back in summer 1990. I was 10; and met Hugh Laurie backstage, afterwards. Lovely memory of doing my Prince George impression for him and Hugh asking if the boys in the dorm knew who he was.
- At worst, though: Elton can be mawkish, derivative and dull. MAYBE BABY is awful, despite Joely Richardson being adorable and Tom Hollander giving a great cameo.
Somewhere in between those extremes of writing? You get Ben adding some accessible edge to the Curtis/Atkinson BLACKADDER formula.
And yes: his masterpiece, WE WILL ROCK YOU!
It is apt that, for an adaptation of a band’s greatest hits, one gets the equal counterpart collection for Elton, himself.
There are stand-up style, up to the minute laughs; satirical motifs and hints of almost childlike simplicity. Pop culture riffs meet substantial literary tropes.
MINOR Quibbles? Slightly long and could lose a tune or two? Also unclear whether they do want us all singing and dancing along or not?
But you WILL have a GREAT time!
- QUEEN fans: This is THE closest you can get to reforming the band. Seriously. Freddie is looking down and proudly so.
- Movie lovers: this is like cinema, on stage. Good effects, sound, lighting and classic sci-fi /adventure vibe.
- Family friendly. Has a panto quality to it. I met a lovely family outside the theatre, in fact.
- Accessible too for people with therapy pets; all disabilities accommodated, beautifully.
- Current iteration, playing now at Birmingham Hippodrome, features MICHAEL MCKELL in the role of ‘Sir’ Cliff Richard (no, not that one).
- The man has presence on stage as on screen. Versatile, funny, physical. Michael is like an impossible fusion of Daniel Craig, Patrick Swayze, Gordon Ramsay, Dolph Lundgren and Sting.
- If they do a Great Escape musical? McKell could pull off Cooler King, easily. He was great in BBC’s DOCTORS and pops up in Hollywood movies, British soaps and yes, great theatre, too.
- Steals his scenes here, whilst knowing when to be selfless and just sit down while co-stars belt out the other numbers, perfectly. #TEAMWORK #LEADERSHIP #ENSEMBLE!
- Rest of cast also, ‘rock’ this.
- Very Sexy girls (even the baddie, ‘killer’ Queen: Jenny O’Leary ).
- Leading man (Ian McIntosh) reminds one of a young John Barrowman/ Tom Cruise.
- Leading lady? She is very Scarlet Witch. Gorgeous. Elena Skye is a name to watch. Trust me! #bitofacrush 😉
In short: Catch WE WILL ROCK YOU! If you can, while you can. I fully intend to try another sitting and hope to visit the stage door, next time.
THIS IS THEATRE! THIS IS, ROCK N ROLL! Recommended. Grade A! They should do a film version.
PS: WILL Rock music be banned in the future? One can never tell! But tech is, fear not, more friend than foe to all freedoms, including creative. For more details..
You can look ahead and map the shape of cities, transport and tech! See, below, should you choose to accept..
And: City Maps
Or: Augmented World
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