From the moment the play begins, with the death of our protagonists followed by an upbeat dance montage taking you through the 20th century, it becomes clear that DEAD: A Musical is utterly unlike anything you will have seen before. With singing woodlice, ghostly dance numbers and some seriously 80’s fashion, it has everything you could possibly want (and more than you could possibly imagine) from a musical about dead people.
DEAD: A Musical follows the story of a family of ghosts who died in a fire in their home in 1985, and have been haunting the house ever since. The family is led by the formidable and traditional Baron, played excellently and hilariously by Cameron Walker, who decides that they must have done something wrong to prevent them from getting into heaven and decrees that they must spend the rest of their deaths attempting to right this wrong.
This leads to them praying a lot and never leaving their house, a source of great angst for the younger members of the family. And then along comes Caroline, an 80’s babe with a zest for life and some questionable slang, who sends the whole house into chaos and brings the ghosts back into the 20th century.
“It is a masterpiece”
One of the most remarkable things about this production is that it is entirely written by students. New Theatre stalwarts Josh Mallalieu and Laurence Cuthbert both wrote and directed this astonishing production, songs and all, and it is a masterpiece.
The faultless scriptwriting is brought to life (no pun intended) by a team of equally brilliant actors. Harry Pavlou excellently portrays the lovesick George, who falls in love with Caroline almost immediately as she moves in, and manages to be effortlessly charming, funny, serious and silly, all in equal measure. He also possibly has the strongest voice in the cast, which he displays in his numerous solos and duets.
Mystic Madge, who helps Caroline communicate with her ghostly beau, is played by the hysterically funny Sasha Gibson, with killer comedic timing and a knack for physical comedy. Also a master in physical comedy is Sam Morris as Mr Stevens, the family’s silent butler, whose Star Wars-themed dance number was an utter delight.
“The lighting and sound are also an integral part of this play”
The chorus were also another strong point in the production, effortlessly filling numerous roles with equal hilarity each time, with particular highlights being Matthew Charlton and Emma Pallet’s cheesy 80’s dating video, as well as Charlton’s disgruntled angel when the family’s chance at heaven finally arrives.
The lighting and sound are also an integral part of this play, which were elegantly used in creative ways to demonstrate the clash between the previously ghostly atmosphere and all of the colour and life of the 80’s.
“The cast and crew have created an entirely original and wonderful piece”
DEAD: A Musical is an utter delight from start to finish. It’s not a short play by any means, clocking in at over 2 and a half hours, but this is inconsequential as you’re so swept away by the performance that you don’t even notice the time passing.
The cast and crew have created an entirely original and wonderful piece of theatre, that will have you leaving with a smile on your face and a song stuck in your head for the next three days.
10/10 – Utterly faultless
Image courtesy of Nottingham New Theatre
‘DEAD: A Musical’ is running at the Nottingham New Theatre until Friday 16th December. For more information and where to find tickets see here