An obscure musical gets a new lease of life with this entertaining production by Musicality. Following a typical American family in 1958 (on the surface, at least), whose lives are shattered by the invasion of aliens led by a being known as ‘The Brain’, this performance is a fun and wacky way to celebrate Musicality’s tenth year in action.
Though this is by no means West End quality – the small handful of students involved in the show are evidently constricted by a low budget and limited time to work on the production – it is clear that a huge amount of work has gone into bringing The Brain and co. to life. And it does pay off; the production itself is well put together, with the costumes, lighting, and visual effects in particular adding to the effect of the show as a whole. And that’s aside from the cast.
The performance showcases some great singing and acting from Bryony Kirby and Bethany Ward, as Dona and Joyce Bunson respectively, and I am incredibly impressed by Matt Talbot’s ability to refrain from corpsing as Fred Bunson during one scene in particular.
“this comedy is a brilliantly involving experience”
Including a hefty dose of audience participation, this comedy is a brilliantly involving experience, particularly during Brain Tap, where the audience itself is subjected to the unrivalled power of ‘The Brain’. Audience members can also treat themselves to a blue alien cupcake at the ticket stand, or a ‘Cocktail from Planet X’ at Mooch, both delicious touches to the promotional aspects of the production.
Paolo Elias excels as the narrator, a brilliant role that revels in meta-humour, and every member of the cast has clearly put in the effort during the busy exam season to make this performance go off with a bang. The actor behind Dona Bunson’s boyfriend, Rod, also brings a breath of fresh air to the production; Harry clearly has a long future of musical theatre ahead of him, man.
“it’s Siska Yustina who steals the show, as may be expected from the eponymous Brain, demonstrating some great dramatic talent”
However, it’s Siska Yustina who steals the show, as may be expected from the eponymous Brain, demonstrating some great dramatic talent as a villain bent on the destruction of the family unit. The show’s maniacal Brain lords over her underlings, aliens Yoni and Zubrick, played by Rowena Fry and Bobby Hughes, who shine (literally), as they fumble through their plans.
The choreography was excellent, with the actors able to make great use of the traverse staging (in which the audience are seated either side of a corridor-shaped stage). This was especially effective in ensemble numbers, and in scenes where multiple parties interact independently.
“overall the behind-the-scenes crew pulled off a great show”
The musical accompaniment was on point, if a little overwhelming at times – technical issues meant certain lyrics were obscured by the volume of the live band, but the performers continued unfazed, and overall the behind-the-scenes crew pulled off a great show.
Featured Image and article images courtesy of Naomi Batley.