We Will Rock You
This new touring production with a new cast and set knows exactly what its audience wants and delivers it by the bucketful. This is escapist nonsense and all the better for it.
The end product is the same – 24 Queen songs wrapped up in a lightweight story with its tongue firmly in its cheek. To succeed, the cast have to deliver it absolutely straight. If not, the premise – a corporate future world without ‘real’ music or instruments – becomes just too cheesy. Fortunately, the Ben Elton script ably pricks any tendency towards the pompous.
Despite some early technical challenges with the sound balance, the cast is strong. As everyones confidence grew, however, the volume was raised to eleven.
Ian McIntosh plays ‘Galileo’ whilst not impersonating Freddie Mercury and is ably supported by Elena Skye. As ‘Scaramouche’ it is her early rendition of Somebody To Love that sets the tone for the remainder of the show. She also gets to deliver some of Elton’s best sarcastic lines.
For me the standout voices were those of Oz (Amy Di Bartolomeo) singing No One But You and Khashoggi (Adam Strong) every time he was on stage. The comic timing of Michael McKell allows him to play Buddy as a careworn hippy with more than a hint of Jagger swagger.
But Queen fans can be confident that the ‘vibe’ is alive and well with this production. It was a shock, however, when I realised that most of the cast (and audience) is too young to remember Queen as a band rather than a Youtube video.
Behind them, literally, the band remain largely unseen but really know their stuff. We Will Rock You ensures that the musical legacy / marketing genius (delete as applicable) of Queen continues in Edinburgh and beyond.
Even with a devoted audience it still needs delivery and conviction to get a Monday night audience onto its feet. What starts as a light pastiche ascends to rock concert level. The rock n’ roll messages of rebellion, resistance and individuality are cheered to the rafters.
So it’s ironic when – at the interval – a large proportion of the audience open their phones and text/tweet/instagram themselves online. Escapism can only take you so far.
Edinburgh Playhouse until 12 October, Theatre Royal, Glasgow (Dec 9 – 28) and His Majesties, Aberdeen (5 – 10 February)