Theatre Review: We Will Rock You
OverviewDirector: Ben Elton
Pros:Recognisable, evocative music and cultural references; some stonking singing from female leads; great one liners.
Cons:Starts with a shudder and you're left blinded by the light show; visuals used on the screens on stage at points appear very dated; older members of the cast were tired and hoarse by the end.
If you’re a photosensitive person who enjoys listening to the lute, then We Will Rock You isn’t the show for you. Otherwise, rock on!
It’s not for photosensitive epileptics, or people who have missed out on music for the past 40 years. We Will Rock You, the musical penned by Ben Elton and Queen, opens with a light show that hurts the eyes and confuses the brain. By the time the second song started with no curtain up, I had a sinking feeling that I had agreed to come to a light and sound show. A quick check revealed blue lights on the walls that you don’t find at the National Concert Hall, which was reassuring, but I certainly breathed a sigh of relief when the live singing started.
We Will Rock You’s storyline is like the Matrix Trilogy marrying Mad Max and then having a dalliance with Lady Gaga. Who, incidentally, is referred to a lot in this show, along with the Internet, bukeface, bebospace etc., etc. We get it. It’s current. So current, that Gangnam Style dance moves can be spotted alongside Elvis-style hip swivelling.
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys listening to the lute, then We Will Rock You isn’t the show for you. We Will Rock You has virtually every audience member bopping in their seats, clapping and singing, and you’ll hear hearty belly laughs at the in-jokes poking fun at music moguls and clones. The conservative parent in me says I would second-guess taking small children to the show, but perhaps the more adult jokes would go over their heads and they’d simply rock out with the rest of the audience.
The stand out character is the caustic Scaramouche (Lauren Samuels) who uses down-to-earth one-liners to take everyone down a peg or two. Her comic timing is bang on and had the audience in knots with her swift character assassination.
By the time the interval was over and the third act was in full swing, the musical took an almost panto-esque turn. When one very popular song ended prematurely for storyline purposes, it brought jeers from the bear pit and the odd heckle.
As a vehicle for Queen songs you won’t see better. This reviewer thoroughly enjoyed the musical, despite a few O2-specific niggles such as food and drink only being available on the ground floor.
We Will Rock You returns to Ireland on June 12th with a four-night run in the Odyssey in Belfast.