City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Little Shop of Horrors Review

By Lindsay Corr - Posted on 30 September 2009

Claire Buckfield as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors
Show Details
Menier Chocolate Factory
Matthew White (Director), David Farley (Set, Costume and Plant Design), Lynne Page (Choreography), David Howe (Lighting)
Damian Humbley (Seymour), Claire Buckfield (Audrey), Lara Martin (Chiffon) Cathryn Davis (Crystal), Keisha Amponsa Banson (Ronnette), Kraig Thornber (Mushnik), Orin (Alex Ferns), Clive Rowe (Audrey II - Voice), Brain Herring (Audrey II - Manipulation)
Running time: 

This zany, offbeat musical has gone through the rounds as one of the longest-running off-Broadway shows of all time; the original 1986 premiere scored by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken being adapted from a 1960s movie conceived and shot in a matter of days by Roger Corman.

With roots that lie in an ultra-low budget film, there's not much to find here except pure entertainment and freaky fun set to a killer doo-wop soundtrack, with just a hint of questioning morality wrapped up deliciously in a dry sense of humour.

We follow the story of Seymour Krelborn (Damian Humbley), the ultimate schlub working at a flailing flower shop, who finds his chance for success by discovering an unusual plant and romance with co-working ditzy blonde Audrey (Claire Buckfield). Standing in his way is Audrey's current sadistic beau Orin (Alex Fearns) and the plant's developing appetite for blood.

With no opening curtain, the audience enters the auditorium and admires David Farley's impressively soiled and crumbling Skid Row, complete with downtown deadbeats shuffling around dark corners. The slickness of the set is mirrored in the fluency of delivery from a cast full of energy and zest. The second number, Skid Row, is a highlight with the stage full of activity and delivered with aplomb by all the ensemble, led by gutter girls Chiffon (Lara Martin), Crystal (Cathyrn Davies) and Ronette (Keisha Amponsa Banson).

The ever present trio of ladies admirably pump out the doobie-doos and aaas as they watch the developing rise of the man-eating plant, however Davies delivers a nasally, ear-piercing high end to the harmony that is difficult for the ear to take.

Matthew White moves the action along at a slick pace, maintaining the black humour with just the right amount of corny mushiness. Humbley's Seymour is endearingly inept and tongue-tied in fine voice, while Buckfield's Audrey is understated with just the right mix of sass and scatterbrain.

The botanically bonkers plant transforms from cutely potted to shop-filling man-eater beautifully, with Clive Rowe's impressive velvet tones and gutsy laugh perfectly capturing the villainous fiend that you can't help but love. Alex Fern's turn as demented dentist Orin gives him free range to be as piercing and lewd as he dares, but in his feisty release he loses the ability to deliver the lines or songs with any clarity; he's much more impressive turning up throughout the show in several of the walk-on roles.

This revival from London's award winning Mernier Chocolate Factory is polished and naughty with an energy that is infectious. Ashman's and Menken's songs are the real winner as they embody the 50s and 60s with lyrics that are both daft and reflective.

Apart from needing some levels better mixed into the system to ensure the actors are not drowned out by the impressive orchestrations, this is a show that is delightfully daft and doesn't take itself seriously.

Times: Until Sat 3 Oct

© Lindsay Corr, September 2009

Read Gordon Clayton's review of Little Shop of Horrors