Tuesday, 4 March 2014

We Will Rock You @ Dominion Theatre

For a long time I've been dissuaded from seeing this show. A friend had been to see it and told me it was so bad she cried.

I was telling this to another friend over a (fairly average) meal at Jamie Oliver's diner, who seemed surprised as she and her partner had loved it. I grew up listening to Queen's music, so knew I would enjoy that aspect at the very least, and with a vacant Saturday matinee spot, decided to go for it (the ticket being only £36 helped in the persuasion – thanks TKTS London)

Due to avoiding the show, I also had never been inside the Dominion Theatre and what struck me first was how open it was. I imagine that the view is good wherever you sit, due to lack of curvature and pillars. I was in the centre of the right block and still had a great view. As a pernickety seat picker, this venue gets big plus points.

The curtain rose and with the hangover of a long-held scepticism tinted by a new hopeful open-mindedness, 12 years into its West End run, I finally got round to watching 'We Will Rock You'. 

My verdict? I liked it. I liked it in the same way I like ‘Rock of Ages’ – though I think RoA acknowledges the ridiculousness of the story more. As long as you’re willing to throw yourself into that ridiculous story and completely suspend your disbelief, then you’ll enjoy it.

It is, after all, a jukebox musical - the stories are always flimsy threads barely holding the songs together. Though, saying that, I think this is one has actually been fleshed out more than, for example, ‘Mamma Mia’; I’d even go so far as to say I felt moved, at times. Their dystopian world, where individuality has disappeared completely into one mass in a digitised, globalised world – that’s a world which potentially could be our own, eventually. I think you can take a message away from this show.

It’s also incredibly silly and funny too. I laughed out loud a few times. Having seen another of Ben Elton’s theatrical writing attempts in Love Never Dies, I had my reservations. The problem with Love Never Dies had always been the flawed story. In jukebox musicals, however, the whole story is usually flawed from the get go due to having to write a story around already existing music. There is not a microscope on the details; it doesn’t need to be perfect.

For me, the standout performances were Alasdair Harvey as Khashoggi and Rachael Wooding as Scaramouche. I thought Alasdair had complete command of that stage whenever he was on and played the part of a slimy jobsworth entirely convincingly, and Rachael was so spot on with the tone and timing of her sarcastic quips, while still seeming completely adorable.

I love the post apocalyptic feel to the set and costumes. The contrast of the clean, white, sterility of the globalsoft headquarters with the grimy, disintegrating rebels hideout worked effectively. Though, I did feel that the revolving platform in Killer Queen’s scenes was slightly overused. Once was enough.

So, on a superficial level, for an evening (or afternoon) of enjoyment, no more, no less, I really enjoyed this show.

Avoid if:- You’re looking for a strong story with a serious theme. Or, and this should go without saying, if you dislike Queen’s music

Recommended if:- You’re a fan of Queen, looking for some light-hearted fun, enjoy dystopian settings and appreciate funky hair, makeup and costumes