Friday, August 01, 2008

"Plague! - The Musical" - Edinburgh Fringe 2008

As a general rule musicals at the Fringe tend to be fairly limited both in scale and length - but Bubonic Productions and their 11 strong cast seem to have missed the memo and appear to believe they are putting on a large scale, full length, west end bound show. And you know what? They might just be right. But there are also reminders here of the many reasons why a fully fledged musical is a rare beast at the Fringe... and they are all about the venue.

With a run time of 1 hour 45 minutes with no interval the venue becomes almost unbearably hot and those seats are really only good for 75 minutes without a break. What could happily run as a two hour musical with interval in a 'proper' theatre struggles here and it definitely feels like it could lose 20 minutes.

Okay, quick plot run through - Boy, Girl, Undertaker, Alchemist, Druids, Rats, Death. Come on it's a musical - plot is an optional extra. But for the record it's all here, present and correct and it actually holds up very well. There are plenty of comic moments and even the groanworthy ones work well. The Pythonesque influences are obvious but the show makes the most of them, and while establishing a number of running gags they aren't stretched beyond their natural life.

Song wise there are two or three cracking numbers, one or two on the weak side but most are pretty effective. But the vocals are a bit of a mixed bag. Catriana Sandison does well as 'Isabella' while Porl Matthews' 'Clive' pitches his vocals perfectly for the space and makes a fine comic double act along with Tim Frost's 'Jerry'. The vocals in the ensemble numbers are very strong but a number of the individual voices struggled to get enough volume in their solos. Once playing to a full auditorium - (which this show deserves to) a lot of lyrics are going to be lost beyond the first few rows unless they are really kicked up a notch or two. But if they can do that, then this could just become the cult hit of this year's Fringe.

Plague! The Musical runs at C until the 25th August (excluding the 11th) at 9:30pm.. We saw the performance on 31st July after confirming the production was happy for us to attend so early in the run.
Image by Ian Stirling used with permission

4 Heckles

Anonymous said...

We saw the show last week in London and loved it. Our review is at

Anonymous said...

I also saw the show last night and had a wonderful time. It is definitely worth bringing a bottle of water though!

Anonymous said...

Had a smile smile on my face for the whole show. Fantastically written. A must see show!

Anonymous said...

Come on it's the fringe. I enjoyed it and found all sorts of links to other shows that I have seen. Never a dull moment and worth going to see.