RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET
by Bob Carlton.
Queen’s Theatre Billet Lane RM11 1QT To 22 September 2012.
Tue-Sat 8pm Mat 20 Sept 1pm, 13, 15 Sept 2.30pm, 16, 22 Sept 4pm.
Audio-described/BSL Signed 15 Sept 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 01708 443333.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 4 September..
Shakespeare, rock ‘n’ roll and reversed polarity in one happy monster mash.
If ever there was a case of a misspent youth, it was clearly that of Bob Carlton. How else was such an encyclopaedic knowledge of rock ‘n’ roll acquired? Such a knowledge of B-movies that enables 1956’s Forbidden Planet to be so easily summoned to the consciousness? Of course, we must take into account the ability to roam substantially through the plays of William Shakespeare for lines to be quoted or mauled – probably deliberately, rather than through subconscious trauma – in this space story.
Value judgements aside, Fred M Wilcox’s film gave Carlton The Tempest, Freud and sci-fi, but his musical’s script roams through Shakespeare, (with a brief diversion to Marlowe) especially Romeo and Juliet, The Shrew and Julius Caesar; with Macbeth coming up strong in the final straight.
Wilcox also gave the personalised robot, here Fredrick “Frido” Ruth’s tall, amiable, silver-metal Ariel, a roller-skating help around the spaceship, engaging with Natasha Moore’s innocent Miranda, in white fifties-style dress, and Mark Newnham’s Cookie in a paperchase for Dr Prospero’s secret formula that’s part of a freewheeling action including weightlessness, an asteroid attack and shocks no system should have to withstand.
No opportunity’s missed, as the spaceship’s landing on Prospero’s planet, to detour down Tin Pan Alley, with numerous mid-century rock ‘n’ roll numbers worked into the plot, while inventive use of musical instruments includes multiple playing of a guitar and the shy-seeming Cookie bursting out in an emotional guitar riff, videod from all angles. By contrast there’s a fine a cappella ‘Teenager in Love’
There’s even a serious point about the uses of science – James Earl Adair mediates this with sincere Hollywood angst. Carlton’s whizz-bang, freewheeling production misses no detail. It revels joyously in cheap tricks; actors shake microphone stands to create space turbulence while the Monster of the Id seems second cousin to the giant squid in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
All on Rodney Ford’s advanced space module of a set, under Mark Dymock’s strong-coloured, never restful lighting. The Billet Lane crew know just how to do these things; this musical eagle has well and truly landed in Hornchurch.
Dr Prospero: James Earl Adair.
Bosun Arras: Simon Jessop.
Navigation Officer: Greg Last.
Science Officer: Jane Milligan.
Miranda: Natasha Moore.
Captain Tempest: Sean Needham.
Cookie: Mark Newnham.
Newscaster: Richard O’Brien.
Ariel: Fredrick “Frido” Ruth.
Director: Bob Carlton.
Designer: Rodney Ford.
Lighting: Mark Dymock.
Sound: Rick Clarke.
Musical Supervisor/Arranger: Julian Littman.
Musical Director: Greg Last.
Audio-visual: Ken Telford.
Choreographer: Fredrick “Frido” Ruth.