The Muppets Take the O2 review – ‘a wonky but charming live show’
Although The Muppet Show was filmed in the UK at Elstree when it started life in 1976, Jim Henson’s creatures have never quite reached the same level of success over here as they have in the US.
This is the first time they’ve ever performed live this side of the Atlantic. The Muppets Take the O2 recreates some of their most famous skits and adds a few country-specific bits on top. Chaos is part of the charm of Muppets’ charm. There’s a wonky quality to this arena show that suits them, with stage manager Scooter trying desperately to keep it all together.
But there’s also a great deal of technical wonk that’s clearly not deliberate. Huge screens combine live video of the puppets on stage (it’s fascinating to see them puppeteered so expertly) with pre-recorded segments, and in the moments where they meet we end up with big, silent gaps that feel more than a bit awkward, particularly in a venue of this size.
None of the Muppety madness is lost though. We still get the uniquely bizarre mix of groan-inducing wordplay, cartoonish violence, and celebrity send-ups.
The celebrity guests provide the weirdest moments: David Tennant is completely unfazed by it all when he turns up as the Doctor for an episode of Pigs in Space, Kylie Minogue sings the Mahna Mahna song, and Charles Dance does a dance with Pepe the King Prawn set to Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud and rave music.
It would all work a lot better in a much, much smaller space, and the show clearly suffers from a lack of rehearsal, but these are minor complaints when the Muppets are in full swing.