Tuesday, February 05, 2008

"We Will Rock You" - February 2008

Knowing that "Othello" wasn't going to be a bundle of laughs and being a little unsure what to expect from "Speed-the-Plow" we wanted to make sure we had some guaranteed 'fun' on our London trip. And having seen the STF Amateur production of "We Will Rock You" last year we were pretty confident the West End version would do the job (admittedly at a price!). And with central tickets in Row G we knew it would definitely be an experience.

I've seen a lot of puzzled faces when I've told them we were seeing "We Will Rock You" after "Othello" but there really isn't anything to sneer about. WWRY is well written by Ben Elton, performed by a polished cast, is visually stunning, and features the music of Queen. It's a great piece of fun that doesn't pretend to be anything else. Okay, so there isn't any depth to the characters and the plot is very basic - but come on, it's a MUSICAL! It's meant to be like that.

The main cast all put in good solid performances, including Craig Ryder who stepped in as Khashoggi in the performance we saw. Maybe it's unfair to compare a cast doing this show night after night, week after week, month after month, with an amateur cast doing it for one week. But like for like the STF cast delivered a stronger performance both vocally and in their acting in every main role. I thought it was maybe just me but when I expressed this view to Waldorf during the interval and she agreed wholeheartedly.

The show also suffers a little as the gags don't always stand up to a repeat viewing but there's enough freshness added with gags about Amy Winehouse, the new Wembley and Northern Rock. And it was also amusing to see the apparently recent deletion of the 'Britney Spears' character due to her current real life troubles and having the character renamed as Vic(toria) Beckham.

But this show is all about two things - the music and the fun, and there's plenty of both. In many ways the show is more like a rock concert than a musical, with volume levels to match, but it all adds to the experience. The audience are here to enjoy themselves and the cast work them well - although some of the action that takes place 'above' the front of the stalls should really provide a better opportunity to directly interact with a growl or two directed at those in the (expensive) seats below.

If you like your music loud and don't want to have to think too much WWRY will definitely be to your taste - and it makes a perfect complement to a weekend of 'serious' theatre.

"We Will Rock You" runs at the Dominion Theatre in London for the next 144 years.