Music: Alan Menken
Lyrics and Book: Howard Ashman
Director: James Baker
Reviewer: Tracey Lowe
Following their critically acclaimed production of ‘Spring Awakening’ earlier this year, Assembled Junk Productions continue to put their unique stamp on the north west Fringe theatre scene with an ambitious performance of cult musical Little Shop of Horrors.
While working at Mushnik’s Flower Shop on Skid Row, Seymour comes across a strange and interesting new kind of plant, Audrey 2, which makes him a local celebrity. But Seymour learns that in order to keep the plant alive, he must perform some questionable acts. As Seymour becomes addicted to fame, and the attention his colleague Audrey pays him, he realises he needs to draw the line somewhere. But how far will he go? And how much damage can this plant do?
Menken and Ashman’s musical is near flawless, but it is also very challenging to perform. Recreating a functioning man-eating plant on stage is quite the feat. But Assembled Junk and director James Baker seemingly don’t believe in boundaries, transforming the intimate upstairs space at The Kings Arms into downtown Skid Row. They also have a series of very impressive puppets for the real star of the show, Audrey 2, manned by Jack Bradley.
The show doesn’t immediately explode onto the stage. Our three-strong Greek chorus open with the eponymous number, but the vocals are somewhat lacking in places. However, by the follow-up number “Skid Row” the girls have relaxed into their rôles. Francesca Swarbrick (Ronnette), Christina Meehan (Chiffon) and Paida Noel (Crystal) all have incredible voices, and they merge together extremely well. They provide a lot of laughs throughout the show, with their exaggerated movements and facial expressions.
Duncan Burt is absolutely adorable as the nerdy but noble Seymour. Laura Harrison is positively enigmatic as Audrey, especially during her big number, “Somewhere That’s Green”. Real congratulations must go to David Zachary, who not only convincingly played psychotic dentist Orin, but also provided the voice for the murderous plant. His performances were so distinctive that it was immediately obvious that he was responsible for both characters. He is undoubtedly a very versatile performer.
Assembled Junk are proving that ambition should not be restricted by performance space. This is not your typical Fringe performance; this is a full scale production that happens to be performed in a pub. It is not currently perfect, within a few more performances it very well could be.