We Will Rock You review at Dominion London
For a band characterised by their glorious follies, letting scriptwriter Ben Elton lace the staged tribute to their arsenal of songs with a message about the dangers of global musical homogenisation could prove Queen’s greatest folly yet. Luckily their appeal is enough to ride roughshod over any tubthumping that Elton feels he needs to get off his chest.
Elton’s book places the action 300 years in the future, where the occupants of Earth are under the control of the creativityquashing corporation GlobalSoft, led by the diva-ish Killer Queen (Sharon D Clarke). When outsider Galileo Figaro – a capable, if unexciting Tony Vincent – shows an affinity with the music of the 20th century he is seized by GlobalSoft’s secret police and, under the command of Alexander Hanson’s Khashoggi, leads them to the Bohemian rebels’ lair.
Here Elton’s script rises above the lyric namedropping and limp innuendo left over from The Thin Blue Line to get in some funny swipes about boybands and Pop Idol. But underlying this is a fuddy-duddy notion of real music, cobbled together from the sleeve notes of No Logo, which besmirches the value of manufactured pop in one breath while quoting freely from the Beatles and the Spice Girls in another. It is all about freedom not money – something the champagnesipping patrons who choose the Dominion’s £120 VIP ticket experience will well appreciate.
But director Christopher Renshaw irons out the creases about the same time as the songs gel with the plot and Nigel Planer, the best exponent of Elton’s exclamation marked lines, reappears as burnt-out rocker Pop. And while you miss someone of Freddie Mercury’s calibre to sing them – though Hannah Jane Fox’s Scaramouche comes closest – the second half’s combination of One Vision, Hammer to Fall and a demonic Seven Seas of Rye sweep you along regardless. Plus the giant screen projections and production designers Mark Fisher and Willie Williams’ pricey settings for the most part weave their spell.
Importantly, while forgiving diehard fans will grin and bear it, the all-important coach parties will not feel it is a busfare wasted. And not even the toe-curling subtext could make a musical with Bohemian Rhapsody completely bite the dust.
This show was reviewed prior to the website launch. A new review may be pending.