Reviewed: Little Shop of Horrors
By Chelsea Gray
Little Shop of Horrors has always been a cult favourite with amateur dramatists; a mandatoryoffering from sixth form productions and community theatres to set against the more studied andcontrived performances usually laden on Shakespearian tragedies. But in spite of an almost farcicalplot that centres on a mutant plant thirsting for human blood, the very absurdity feeds into its B-movie horror and black comedy venture which promises to raise a smile from even the most jaded spectator. Taking the premise with a pinch of salt, it is surprisingly easy to immerse into the 60s kaleidoscopic sound of bubble-gum pop in ‘Downtown’ and the Motown, doo-wop influences in ‘Da doo’.
It is in the big musical numbers that the stage comes to life, and Hannah Cope’s powerful bluesy vocals in particular give fresh vitality and mirth to the ambitiously crafted plant-monster. In a scene stealing moment, the towering plant sculpture soulfully moans ‘Feed me’ and transforms from an awkward prop the characters casually manoeuvre around to a dominating stage presence and frightening authority in the plot action. The dentist’s crude seductive gesturing and the synchronicity of movement in ‘Mushnik and Son’ are also noteworthy, choreographed with great comic timing to really capitalise on the melodrama and latent humour of the scenes. This theatricality is what works and is right on point, insistently playing up the overt humour of its exaggerated and caricatured
However, too much weight has been placed on what is arguably a series of obvious shots at comedy, at the expense of comparatively little attention being given to the subtler scenes of romance between Audrey and Seymour. Lacking chemistry and thus failing to engage the audience in how it will all pan out for them, when left to their own devices, these over-drawn characters
fall flat. Even with the well-known, wish-fulfilment solo from the heroine can stir only apathy.
As the play moves to conclusion, the plot feels tired and the chorus of girls that interlace it seem uninspired, if clunky, adding little else but sheer energy of movement as the action continues to eke out. The theatricality of the characters and their over-wrought movements fall down when transferred from the big musical numbers to the slower pace of the drama, cleaving a performance
that is sustained only by leaping from one musical interlude to the next. A good re-working of an over-done play; a performance that ticks enough boxes to ensure a laugh or two, but given the directorial lead of Charlie Oulton-the same director behind the creative vision of NADSAT’s Hamlet- Hild Bede’s Little Shop of Horrors leaves unanswered the potential for something much more