Sexy, silly, savage, slimy fun rears its mutant head at the Pleasance this Fringe: The Toxic Avenger stomps out all the competition.
Set in the bubbling radioactive vat that is New Jersey, USA; ‘The Toxic Avenger’ is a cheesy musical romp about Melvin looking for love and acceptance as he disembowels the neighbourhood, struggling with his new ‘toxic waste monster’ powers. The show is as goofy as it sounds, but genuinely enjoyable, with catchy numbers and guffaws aplenty. The charm of the production is also increased by its ability to transport the audience back to the time of cult classics like Rocky Horror and Little Shop Of Horrors. There is something nostalgic about the hazy lighting design and out-of-place characters that seem to have jumped out of a pulp novel or Saturday morning cartoon; all bright colours and big dreams. Therefore, while the self-aware humour and mocking attitude roots the show fiercely in the present, it simultaneously feels like you’re watching something that you dug up on an old VHS tape. It would be completely fitting to have late-night showings of Toxic Avenger featuring an audience dressed up in green body paint and fake pustules, yelling crass things at the crass cast at precisely crass times, in the style of Rocky Live; but with more gore and spit, as opposed to heavy eye make-up and fish nets.
The vocal performances in the show are delightful and strong, with big ballads bringing down the house every five minutes. The music and score are fun and carefree, so much so that perhaps the ‘be eco-friendly’ message is lost. Nevertheless, the energy is relentless from scene to scene, costume changes are whiplash fast, and the story itself hurtles on its predictable way gleefully. There are unfortunately some scenes which experience a dip in speed and enthusiasm, most notably a number in which one of the cast members, who is playing two characters, must sing a duet with herself. While an interesting concept, it is not performed with excitement, and takes place mostly backstage, with the set itself remaining bare.
Toxic Avenger transitions to the West End this Autumn, and following its positive reception at the Fringe so far, it is sure to be a roaring success.