★★★★★ Little Shop of Horrors
The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park is one of London’s joys in the summer season – that’s assuming it doesn’t rain, although I did notice they were selling plastic ponchos for £3! The glorious amphitheatre-type setting is surrounded by trees which is cunningly appropriate for this year’s musical, Little Shop of Horrors.
|The Open Air Theatre stage|
Based on the low-budget 1960s black comedy film, Little Shop of Horrors is a horror comedy rock musical about the misfits of Skid Row, where life is full of broken dreams and dead ends. But there’s hope on the horizon for hapless flower shop assistant, Seymour, when he discovers a mysterious new plant with killer potential that feeds on human blood and flesh. Plainly there’s more to the story but, with no spoilers here, suffice to say this is one glorious camp romp of a show, where all that’s required of the audience is just to sit back, relax and enjoy the ongoing, seriously green mayhem and fun that surrounds you.
|Marc Antolin and Jemima Rooper|
Written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman in a musical style firmly embedded in early 1960’s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown, the score includes the notorious songs Skid Row, Somewhere That's Green, and the cult classic, Suddenly, Seymour.
Director Maria Aberg’s staging of the show is perfection, especially in the beautiful Open Air theatre setting. With green as the overwhelming colour du jour, Tom Scutt’s set and costume designs are overwhelmingly witty, utterly inspired and gorgeously outrageous. When we come to meet Audrey 2, the embodiment of the mutant plant, it is a coup de theatre, when American drag star/actress Vicky Vox appears. Dressed in a symphony of pinks, blues and greens and with more sequins than a good night on Strictly, she is a sheer showstopper. How she manages to move around on such high-heeled pink-glittered platform stilettos is a revelation! But hey, just keep feeding her and see her grow and glow – this is one knock-out performance!
|Matt Willis and Marc Antolin|
Jemima Rooper as Audrey and Marc Antolin as Seymour are the perfect musical comedy love-match, and both give wonderfully captivating performances, albeit there is a worryingly ruthless side to the seemingly kind and generous Seymour. But my all-time, glow-in-the-dark five green stars must go to the crazily brilliant performances – and there are plenty to choose from – of Matt Willis. From demented, sadistic dentist to a series of quick-change, quick-fire cameos, he is fascinating to watch, joyously funny and beyond evil too.
Little Shop of Horrors is, without a doubt, the best musical in London this summer. If you haven’t seen it, just get down to Regents Park, come rain or come shine, for the campest, most original, captivating lesson in glittery-green horticulture ever!