Book, Music and Lyrics: Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe
Director: Andy Fickman
Homicide, high school and teenage angst… Based on the 1988 cult classic by Daniel Waters, Heathers is beautifully dark and, as their website describes, a“wickedly funny” new musical that covers issues such as: homosexuality, suicide and rape. Despite the dark undertones of the plot, the vibrant visuals, unique characterisations and catchy songs transform this show into a hilarious and uplifting exploration of hope, acceptance and self-love. Filled with unexpected twists this show is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Set in Westerberg High, Sherwood Ohio, the show follows protagonist Veronica Sawyer (Rebecca Wickes) as she is catapulted to popularity through her friendship with the mean and popular trio, the Heathers (Maddison Firth, Merryl Anash and Lizzy Parker). When new kid JD (played by Simon Gordon) enters the scene however, Veronica discovers just how deadly senior year can really be. Veronica becomes smitten by the troubled and brooding JD and the pair embark upon a mission to eliminate all of the bullies from school.
Firth’s take on Heather Chandler is both hilarious and evil. With stunning vocals and excellent timing Firth offers comedic relief throughout both acts. Similarly, Liam Doyle and Rory Phelan perfectly portray the immature and crude jocks Kurt and Ram, with their number You’re Welcome being a highlight of the first act. Their interpretation of the high-school bullies is surely recognisable by anyone who has ever attended school. Opening the second act, My Dead Gay Son (performed by Andy Brady and Kurt Kansley) sparks hope and pride whist also proving to be ferociously entertaining. The number re-engages the audience and has the crowd dancing along’
Act Two deviates slightly from the comedy of the first half as Veronica struggles to realign her moral compass and separate herself from JD’s homicidal habits. It is nonetheless just as poignant as the first act, showcasing some of the productions most captivating songs such as: Seventeen, I Say No and Meant To Be Yours. Act two also offers the gift of Mhairi Angus as Martha Dunnstock, performing the breath-taking number Kindergarten Boyfriend.
As Veronica and JD, Wickes and Gordon’s voices, while excellent alone, blend beautifully together with each of their duets. There are moments from both actors that truly have the audience laughing out loud due to their practically perfect timing. It feels, however, that there is a lack of depth to the complicated characters and their character development could be clearer. While Wickes and Gordon’s portrayals are both believable and enjoyable it would be beneficial to see a little more of the inner conflict and emotional turmoil of both characters.
There are several points throughout the show where dialogue feels rushed, losing meaning and leaving the audience a little confused. But, while the delivery of some lines may need amending this does not take away from the overall success of the production.
Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe have created something truly incredible as they manage to turn the morally ambiguous themes of the show into entertaining and meaningful lyrics without detracting from the significance of the issues they depict or becoming insensitive.
Offsetting the darkness of the plot, the set and costumes are vibrant, and eye catching and teamed with Ben Cracknell’s lighting design the visuals of this show are colourful and dramatic. Alongside this, Andy Fickman’s take as director offers a unique and creative approach, giving the show a fast-paced and quirky feel.
Runs until 6 November and then continues to tour