Theatre and book reviews by Janice Dempsey
I loved the demon dentist, played by X-factor star Rhydian with enormous gusto. His gratuitous sadism, amply punished, is the stuff of comic books and cartoons, his stage presence simultaneously chilling, powerful and ridiculous. Stephanie Clift as Audrey is Marilyn Monroe with a Bronx accent, low self-esteem and a beautiful singing voice. Her comic timing is impeccable, as is Sam Lupton’s as Seymour. His paso doble with Paul Kissaun as the stereotyped stage Jew Mushkin is a comedic delight.
On stage almost continuously are Sasha Latola, Vanessa Fisher and Cassi Claire as Crystal, Chiffon and Ronnette. They form a “Greek chorus” from the start and their doo-wop singing and fantastically inventive dancing are indispensible to the action. I also enjoyed Phil Adele’s and Stephanie McConville’s contributions to the Skid Row street dance ensembles (as flasher and pregnant mum!)
The monster star of the show, Audrey II, manipulated by puppeteer Josh Wilmott with Neil Nicholas providing its fruity, obscenely sensual blues-singing voice, was threatening enough to frighten one member of the audience into demanding to leave, momentarily. But for the rest of the highly appreciative audience this was a comic fantasy world that we were glad we’d entered for an hour or two.
I left the New Victoria Theatre exhilarated and transformed by a truly entertaining experience. Not that I was humming the tunes from the show: there are none that are in themselves the stuff of ear-worms. The magic was in the sheer joy, humour and verve of this production. A must-see!
© Janice Windle
This review is also published today on the theatre page of Essential Surrey online magazine