Writer and Director: Bob Carlton
Reviewer: Francesca Parker
On it’s 25th Anniversary tour Return To The Forbidden Planet, directed by Queen’s Theatre Company, arrives at the Blackpool Grand Theatre for one week only. As a rock and roll musical set in the future with robots and spacecrafts, it is a performance that the whole family could enjoy.
When Captain Tempest and the Science Officer are caught in a meteor shower – a metaphorical representation of their turbulent relationship, they are separated and the story begins to unfurl.
Return to the Forbidden Planet’s plot is loosely based on one of Shakespeare’s most notable productions, The Tempest. As a result the audience is taken on an intrepid adventure through the expanses of space and time, and arrive in the complex world of Captain Tempest, Doctor Prospero, Miranda and Ariel, to name but a few, all evidently unsubtle references to its origins. The references to Shakespeare’s literary cannon are so unrelenting it becomes painful; similarly the allusions to other classics, including Melville’s, Moby Dick cannot be driven from your mind. These classics are then blended with a cavalcade of musical madness and science fiction to create weird and strangely contradictory production.
The performance includes the musical favourites such as The Surfaris’, Wipe Out, Big Joe Turners’ Shake Rattle and Roll, and, of course Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire. These musical features are more like brief interludes to the painstakingly long and arduous plot. Despite the length of the production and its tedious childlike antics, there is no denying that the cast is comprised by multi-talented individuals – there are very few productions, currently running, that will have their lead actors and actresses playing a variety of wind, brass or string instruments.
Sarah Scowen, as Miranda, and Mark Newnham, as Cookie, delivered notable vocal performances alongside their respective accompaniment on the trumpet and electric guitar. Joseph Mann totally embodied the flamboyant and fantastical Ariel and Sean Needham mastered the stiff and unromantic, Captain Tempest.
The set and lighting, particularly the use of bright flashing light and the retractable projector screen, contribute to the futuristic and rather surreal feeling that fills the theatre. However in order to have a truly memorable and enjoyable evening, the audience must engage their imagination and patience for the predominance of the evening.
Despite these criticisms it is palatable, however I do doubt that the majority of the audience would return for a second visit.
Runs until Sat 2nd May