A show about a man-eating, sassy-chattin’ plant really shouldn’t work half as well as Little Shop Of Horrors does. It follows the story of Seymour, an employee at Mushnik’s Flower Shop, who manages to raise a plant who takes a bit of a fancy to human blood. Oh, and it can talk. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, yes, but therein lies the unique charm of this cult classic show.
This co-production of the Mercury and Salisbury Theatres bears an impressive cast without any real weak links. The stand-out cast members for me have to be Gbemisola Ikumelo, Karis Jack and Carole Stennett as a three piece soul band and residents of Skid Row who add a great deal of fun and brilliant vocal talent to this production. Frances McNamee also gives an assured performance as shop assistant Audrey, who’s impressive voice really shines in Somewhere That’s Green. A special mention must go to plant puppeteer Andrew London and voice Leon Craig who give Audrey II an incredibly lifelike presence, making it easy to be taken to a world in which we are all under threat from a man-eating plant.
One of the first things you notice about this production is James Button’s tall, overbearing set. Washing hangs between two windows, rubbish lines the street and graffiti covers the walls. It really reinforces the rundown setting of Skid Row, and helps to access Seymour’s reasoning in continuing to give in to the plant’s bloodthirsty demands; they’re a chance to escape from the dire surroundings in which he finds himself (though feeding 3 people to a talking plant might have been a bit extreme).
If there’s one thing you take away from this show, it’s definitely going to be its catchy and immensely enjoyable score, ensuring the plot doesn’t get too depressing which, let’s face it, was always going to be a risk with a show about a plant that’s intent on taking over the human race. Mixing musical theatre with motown, soul and rock and roll vibes makes for a score that’s interesting throughout; with most of the songs remaining in your head way after you leave the theatre. I enjoyed Act 1 opener Skid Row (Downtown) which cleverly introduced all the characters and set the scene for the rest of the show, but by far my favourite number was Suddenly, Seymour. Songs involving people belting about how much they love each other pretty much always gain a special place in my heart – and this is no exception!
A fun night out not to be taken too seriously, this production Little Shop Of Horrors is full of brilliant songs and a talented cast which make for a thoroughly enjoyable evening of theatre.
Little Shop Of Horrors is part of the Mercury Theatre’s ‘Made In Colchester’ season and is playing until 13th June.