Edinburgh Reviews: Plague! The Musical

This is a tricky review to write, since these guys were C venues colleagues of ours, and unsureness what to write here is one of the reasons I lapsed into such crapness about keeping up with these reviews. Now that the fringe is over, it seems less problematic, although I won’t feel any less awkward about the thought that they might read it, but…

It was pretty ropey, really. The cast threw themselves into it for the most part, and some of them were indeed quite talented (the leading man and two leading ladies). The trouble was, the script wasn’t so great, and some of the cast had those annoying little habits which really get to you after a few minutes, and a certain lack of stagecraft. The alchemist, for instance, was never onstage for more than a few seconds without doing the same quite irritating little conjuring gesture. If he was on for, say, a whole song, this meant that he did it continuously, throughout the song.

The idea of projecting a representative cartoon scene onto a screen in the absence of actual scenery was nice, but the screen being on the extreme stage right was… odd. The singers weren’t miced, but that was alright because the music was from a backing track. The show was musically not bad, and some of the cast were actually fairly good singers. That said, not many of the songs were all that memorable.

The main problem, though, was that the show was just a bit long and involved. A guy goes to London and falls in love with a girl whose father is a sworn enemy of the man he gets a job with. And then something pretty indecipherable about rats happens, everyone gets the plague, the girl dies, death comes to collect her in a rather sub-Pratchett little scene, and then something else about the rats, and it’s all ok. That’s the basic framework, but there’s a few other bits and bobs hanging off it. Essentially, there’s just a bit too much. Maybe it’s just that I needed the loo and the venue was literally a sauna, so I wasn’t paying enough attention, but I think it’s certainly fair to say that the show could be seriously improved by someone with a red pen and an unsentimental eye being given a couple of hours with the libretto.

2/5

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