Evil - The Musical

Mon 15th – Sat 20th August 2011

reviews

Juliet Roe

at 13:56 on 17th Aug 2011

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When encountering shows of this kind on the fringe, they are either really good or just quite bad. For the first ten minutes or so of this musical it seemed that this was an unexpected gem; the songs were funny, the singing was good and the cast seemed to be on top of things. This, however, did not last and the show quickly disintegrated into a series of poorly written sketches forming a plot that was confusing and constantly forgot what it was parodying.

What is confusing about it, other than the plot, was that had some more of the scenes included songs it would have been much, much better. The plot went something along the lines of: lots of ‘evil villains’ do devious things, Superguy flits between them with some vague notion of stopping them (though it’s unclear what they’re doing other than just saying they’re ‘evil’ alot). There are magic power balls that all had different powers which were hard to remember, at times it felt like ‘The Powerpuff Girls’ had just gone really downhill. You get the impression that someone on the production team found the magic power balls in Poundland and just got overexcited in terms of how much of the plot could rely on them.

The talent of the production, both cast and writing, was clearly in singing rather than dialogue and yet it was dialogue that dominated. Songs like ‘Good and Evil’s just a Matter of Context’ and the opening ensemble piece were funny and well executed, and had the frequency of songs been higher the show would have been much more enjoyable and made much more sense overall. Songs which were crying out to be included were some kind of angst-y ballad by Sidekick, whose facial expressions were better than most of the dialogue. It’s difficult to say whether it was largely the actors or the script, but the plot fell flat. It was clearly supposed to be what the ‘Austin Powers’ films was to the ‘Bond’ franchise, but this parodying was not done with enough confidence to make it work. Or particularly funny. In scenes laden with silly puns the delivery was such that they were hidden in the dialogue, so that instead of anticipating the next one and laughing when required to, you only noticed them retroactively and missed the cue to laugh. This is not to say that some of the scenes weren’t based on good ideas, it’s just that they would have worked so much better as songs in a show that was billed as a musical. The scene where a villain with 3 personalities tries to rob a bank with only 1 of them keen to do so was bewildering when performed using only speech. Superguy could have been a much better ‘generic superhero’ if he had had a song with which to introduce himself, equally the villains would have been much more memorable if there were fewer of them and they had a song to introduce their dastardly plans.

The problem with this piece stems from trying to complicate quite a simple premise; if there had been fewer villains, more songs and a simpler, less off the wall and better explained plot this would have been a really good musical. It got laughs from the crowd for lines like ‘you’re as useless as a crotchless chastity belt’ and ‘are you deaf as well as camp?’ but it relied too heavily on scripted banter between Superguy and the villains which just wasn’t well written or delivered enough to work. The closing song of the show featured the line ‘I was never born to be good’, by which stage it was difficult to tell whether it was the villains saying this or the musical itself.

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Rhiannon Kelly

at 13:58 on 17th Aug 2011

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Evil, and Musical. Two words that I never expected to hear in the same sentence, let alone the same show. Austin Powers meets the Powerpuff Girls with an added dose of schizophrenia, pink velvet and evil balls. Confused? So was I. The production is a wonderfully silly affair but a bit of a theatrical mess.

As the production began, the operatic chanting of “Evil… Evil…. EVILLLL!” was deliciously oxymoronic; an excellent opening that had everyone in stitches. The Python-esque voiceover between each scene explaining the various cave-based locations was initially entertaining, but as the play progressed it started to wear thin. I know the company were pushing the repetitive, clichéd comedy, but it ended up just being dull, clearly just a technique to conquer awkward scene changes.

The first musical number, “evil is just a matter of context” was great, as Prof Pinkie and his henchman were introduced to the audience. Evil Prof Pinky, played by Craig Kelly, was clearly influenced by Austin Powers, and his wonderfully camp frolicking went down a treat, as he really played up to the audience in a pantomime fashion. I expected to see more musical numbers like this; the dialogue just wasn’t as interesting as the singing, so it was disappointing to only have a few songs. It was a great parody on superhero comics and stereotypical villains, but the script just wasn’t quick enough to justify the dodgy puns and bizarre comedy. It felt like a series of sketches rather than a play with a decisive narrative, and while all the characters were brought together in their quest to destroy Superguy, it was just too disjointed to properly follow through.

The cast have an admirable dedication to their eccentric roles. Hope, Charity and Faith are a humorous threesome, and their frustrations with everyone and each other are comically communicated. Sidekick (Dan Henry) is a wonderful addition to the cast, his face expressions alone saying more than some other speaking characters. Incognito (Jacky Fletcher) is the most ridiculous character of all; describing herself as Superguy’s biggest nemesis, she has three alter egos that she rapidly switches between. It took a while to realise what she was actually doing, but her commitment to the three roles (and several other unexplainable accents) is commendable.

There was a touch too much shouting in the small venue, and the piece has more than a handful of messy flaws. ‘Evil, the Musical’ refuses to take itself seriously, but the script was undeniably weak. The concept has more potential than was actually executed.

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