THE TOXIC AVENGER
Book by Joe DiPietro Music & Lyrics by David Bryan.
Based on Lloyd Kaufman’s The Toxic Avenger.
The Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport Street, London WC2H 7JB to 3 December.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Sun 6pm. Mat Sat & Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 20 mins. One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7836 8463.
Review: William Russell 5 October.
Terrific and intoxicating
Based on the 1984 film by Lloyd Kaufman this rock musical was bad taste, lewd, nothing sacred delight when it first surfaced at Southwark Playhouse last spring, but this revival with a new lead as the green monster fighting industrial pollution in New Jersey takes to the stage of the Arts with increased dynamism and seems more outrageous than ever.
Mark Anderson as the geek Melvin turned into something green and ghastly when dumped into a vat of Toxic waste strides through the evening with style, managing to create a character even when his head is encased in a mask all polyps and dangling eyes out of their socket.
The show gets away with disabled jokes – the librarian heroine, Emma, played by Emma Salvo, is blind – and lots more that are anything but politically correct by its sheer bravado. The score by Joe DiPietro pulses with the beat as a good rock score should – his melodies will go in one ear and out the other but that is not a problem – and David Bryan’s lyrics are very funny. The five strong cast work frantically to get it all across, with Natalie Hope achieving wonders as Toxie’s Mum and the wicked Mayoress behind the toxification of the city, managing, having denied it could happen, to be both characters on stage at the same time, while Oscar Conlon-Murray is impressive as all the White Dudes who beset Toxie and best of all as a rock minstrel with no strings to his guitar.
As the various Black Dudes Che Francis is adept, but just a shade too knowing when he gets into drag – this sort of nonsense needs a little more detachment. The audience was on its feet at the end with good reason. Toxie is only strutting this stage for a limited season but there would seem to be no reason why the Avenger should not go on saving the world from pollution and getting the girl – she doesn’t much fancy Melvin but she does like Toxie’s more impressive assets
no end – for much longer than that.
Melvin/Toxie: Mark Anderson.
Sarah: Emma Salvo.
Mayoress/Ma Ferd/Nun: Natalie Hope.
Black Dude: Che Francis.
White Dude: Oscar Conlon-Murray.
Swings: Peter Bindloss; Sophia Lewis.
Director: Benji Sperring.
Musical Director: Alex Beetschen.
Choreographer: Lucie Pankhurst.
Sound Designer: Andrew Johnson.
Lighting Designer: Nic Farman.