Little Shop of Horrors, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s darkly comedic musical about a blood guzzling plant, met floods of laughter and almost burst blood vessels at UEA’s Drama Studio last night. As the ominous black curtains parted so did the audience’s smiles and they stayed smiling throughout the show. The director, Rob Ellis, pulls the audience head first into the tongue-in-cheek world of Skid Row, a 1960s slum district.
The three protagonists worked well together, all keeping the energy high and setting a great tone for the dark, gory humour of the show. The show goes on to reveal that the ‘Audrey Two’ (voiced wonderfully by Alex Horrox-White) can only flourish on human blood; Seymour makes a Faustian pact with the plant which brings him fame, money and love.
The whole show is bound together by the three street urchins, Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon (respectively Sarah Tattesall, Sarah Carton and Amber Muldoon). Their strong voices and perfect timing made an unbroken daisy chain between scenes.
They were part of an extraordinary ensemble cast who brought a vibrancy and vitality to the vicious tale of the Venus fly trap.
The most comic part of the show was Ed Jones as Audrey’s sadistic dentist boyfriend. Whilst the character was wonderfully over the top and drew laughs from the audience there was a sense in which the character seemed too funny. Although Little Shop of Horrors is an inherently dark comedy sometimes it felt we were laughing too much with Jones’ character than at him. However, the poses his struck were utterly ridiculous and even Jones’ silhouette was funny.
The timing of the show was a testament to both the band and the direction. For its unsubtle humour and relatively small cast the show is often used in amateur productions and school plays where timing can so easily go wrong; this show moved effortlessly in and out of songs, uncomplicated but effective dances and amusing well timed jokes.
The play is unashamedly self aware; the refrain ‘WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?’ lingered in this reviewer’s head throughout.
If you are looking for serious, poignant and a morally hopeful show then Little Shop of Horrors is probably not your best bet.
UEA Drama Society’s production has its tongue rammed firmly in its cheek and its jazz hands thrown dramatically up in the air staking no claim to severity.
None of the actors take themselves too seriously at all, but it is obvious that a lot of sweat, tears and gallons of fake blood has gone into this production.