LET THIS BE A WARNING

I just noticed that We Will Rock You is advertising a forthcoming theatre run in Edinburgh. For the sake of posterity, below is my review of said production from The Herald earlier this year. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Arts Review: We Will Rock You
King’s Theatre, Glasgow
**(*)

So we witnessed a classic rock wonder of the world. Queen’s Brian May made a God-like appearance for the encore of Ben Elton’s “comedy” musical, We Will Rock You – hamming-up the overblown Bohemian Rhapsody guitar solo like the legend he is.

It’s unlikely that May will enliven every show with a cameo, however. And without his axe and locks, that means three bludgeoning hours of Queen karaoke, dragged forth by a plot and characters that are laboured to the point of distraction. (That third star is thus reserved for May).

Delivering all the hits but none of their dramatic punch, We Will Rock You is set in a futuristic dystopia in which Bucks Fizz are more reviled than global warming; in which computer-generated pop has caused the extinction of “real” – i.e. rock – music (ergo civilisation); in which love-struck protagonists Galileo and Scaramouche (no, really) inhabit geographical landmarks like The Seven Seas of Rhye.

Working on the basic premise that the X Factor has caused the apocalypse (think Mad Max meets Futurama), the ironies in Elton’s technophobic, culturally elitist ideology are dizzying. Every song, for example, is reminiscent of an average (and suitably unsubtle) performance from the TV programme it strives to lampoon.

Its fundamental argument, meanwhile – that “proper” (Queen’s) music was created for love, not money – is grossly undermined by the fact that two of the production’s songs, Flash and Somebody To Love, are currently being put to more emotive use on TV ads for Coke-owned smoothies and car insurance respectively.

As for the “comedy” angle, that’s confined to Cliff Richard and Shakin’ Stevens one-liners – unless you count its flaccid yet relentless playground innuendo. Laugh? I nearly blew a gasket.

(Nicola Meighan)

Source: The Herald (Scotland), April 24 2011

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