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15th December 2014

Review: Little Shop of Horrors

Staying true to the spirit the original musicals and movies, Royal Exchange’s play exceeds the expectations of Luke Sharma

The production, based on the 1960 comedy horror film of the same name, follows the story of a down on his luck, dweeby botanist called Seymour Krelborn who discovers an alien plant called Audrey II with an appetite for blood. The plant carves Seymour’s path to glory (or so it seems), but as it grows, so does its appetite for human flesh! With plenty of zany characters and an even more insane storyline, Little Shop of Horrors shouldn’t be missed.

The Exchange’s production was nothing less than incredible. It stayed true to the spirit, fun and humour of the original musicals and movies. With The Exchange being a theatre-in-the-round, the staging stayed simple, with location changes being represented by props. They were extremely well built and were all very similar to the 1986 film adaptation.

There are some surprises in there, which I don’t want to spoil, but the director Derek Bond did a brilliant job in exploiting every dimension of the theatre from the ceiling down, to capture his vision. The flooring of the stage was lit quite brilliantly with underfloor lighting to represent the mood and paid tribute to the sci-fi nature of the production.

Musical direction by Tim Jackson can’t go unnoticed. The five-piece band he led never missed a beat and provided a brilliant accompaniment to a bunch of extremely talented singers. Furthermore, the ‘puppeteering’ of Audrey II was done in the most suitable way for a theatre-in-the-round, and although the puppeteers were extremely noticeable initially, after 5 or 10 minutes you’re too engrossed in the fantastic job they’re doing to even notice them.

As far as the performance of the cast is concerned, even though there was a limited cast, each cast member performed their part(s) by the book (perhaps with the exception of Ako Mitchell but we’ll get to him later) and each member played them extremely well and as a result of such a fantastic team effort I do not have a single criticism to make.

Gunnar Cauthery was absolutely perfect; whomever casted him as Seymour deserves a pat on the back. As I was watching him perform, I almost too often had flashbacks to Rick Moranis (from the 1986 film version). I would even go as far to say that Mr. Cauthery captured the dweeby essence of Seymour as well as and probably even better than Moranis himself!

Kelly Price was also excellent as Audrey, being Seymour’s love interest. From her first appearance, you can feel the talent that Ms. Price has to offer. By the time Act 2 comes around, it becomes obvious that you are in the presence of an extremely gifted actress.

Now it must be said, the two members of the cast who really stole the show for me were Ako Mitchell, playing Orin Scrivello and various other characters and Nuno Silva as Audrey second voice and puppeteer. The earlier mentioned Mr. Mitchell can be described as “not playing his parts by the book”; he somehow managed to make the character of Orin so much more sinister and far more hilarious than any other portrayal that I have ever seen, and the various other characters he played just showed the audience the variety and diversity of this actor. Nuno Silva was more surprising than anything, a silent puppeteer throughout, but when he opens his mouth, the deepest, smoothest and jazziest voice pours out which was completely unexpected and absolutely magnificent.

Although I don’t have the word count to expand on the rest of the cast, I feel that it needs to be noted that every single cast member was amazing in the roles they played and should be extremely proud of this production. I implore you to go and watch this production, because I can guarantee that you won’t see such a brilliant performance of Little Shop of Horrors outside the West End. Derek Bond has assembled a brilliantly talented cast, who have absolutely knocked it out of the park.

Little Shop Of Horrors is running from 5th December 2014 until 31st January 2015.

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