THEATRE REVIEW: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS – Perth
Little Shop Of Horrors, His Majesty’s Theatre, Perth – Friday, 5 August, 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Based on – and featuring stills from – the 1960 Roger Corman movie, and with more than a passing resemblance stylistically to the tongue-in-various-cheeks spoofery of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (you can bet Richard O’Brien was paying attention to Little Shop when he wrote his ‘70s classic), Little Shop Of Horrors’ Australian run taps deliciously into the drive-in culture of cold war alien-invasion schlock that was all the rage amongst teenagers at the time (and remains enduring so, even now).
The story of meek Skid Row florist’s assistant Seymour (played note perfectly by Brent Hill), who finds an alien plant which quickly becomes dependant on human blood to survive, is an enduring one, having spawned a 1980’s film starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin, and this incarnation is merely the latest in a long line of stage adaptations.
Seymour names his fast-growing plant the Audrey II – after fellow employee Audrey (played with zany eccentricity by Esther Hannaford), who is the not-so-secret object of his affections. Audrey’s abusive boyfriend, Dentist Orin Scrivello (played with nitrous sucking vim by Scott Johnson somewhere directly between the goons from Grease and Dennis Hopper’s psychopath in Blue Velvet) comes to a sticky end by Audrey II when Seymour realises his plant needs more than a drop or two of blood from his nicked fingers.
The all-talking, all-singing, all-eating plant is brilliantly realised in all the stages of its growth, from tiny hand puppet to shop-overflowing monster, by the team from Erth Visual & Physical Inc. – so brilliantly that it is in real danger of overshadowing the cast and story.
Thankfully director Dean Bryant and Producer Lisa Campbell have assembled a small but talented cast who stand their ground against the alien invader. Special mention must be made of the chorus of three street-wise girls who provide backing vocals, humorous asides, and move the story along nicely where required, Josie Lane, Chloe Zuel and Angelique Cassimatis as Chiffon, Ronnette and Crystal (named after girl groups of the time, of course).
A wonderfully quirky stage set, period-appropriate costumes, excellent performances from the cast and the giant plant, some excellent songs performed live (Hannaford especially nails the duet Suddenly Seymour in spectacular fashion), and a script which is as funny and scary as it was upon debut fifty five years ago, all add up to a fantastic night out which should not be missed.
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