This show is ridiculous.
It’s silly, and stupid, and unnecessary, and everything you could ever want from a rock musical.
I knew nothing about the show apart from the songs, which meant that within the first 30 seconds, I truly wondered what I’d let myself in for. An initially classy, mesmerising galaxy projection was suddenly super-imposed by Star Wars-esque scene-setting text, accompanied by classic rock guitar lines. Think Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure meets Android Netrunner; Fifth Element meets Return to the Forbidden Planet. It’s your classic, retro, spoof, sci-fi B-movie. And I loved (almost) every minute.
The vocal talent floored me – Galileo, Scaramouche, and Killer Queen were all class acts, but Admiral Kagosshi absolutely stole the show. Adam Strong’s timing, delivery, humour, and perfectly-on-pitch-whilst-still-utterly-in-character singing was the highlight of the performance. Queen is an impossibly hard act to follow, but this cast managed to emulate without attempting to copy exactly. There’ll never be another Freddy – but they didn’t bother trying.
The production itself was high class: clever, condensed, efficient set, gorgeous use of moving panels, and wacky costumes that 15 year old me would have coveted. The script was riddled with jokes for everyone – pop culture references from the Beach Boys to Lizzo, engaging the audience regardless of age. Just like Queen, I suppose. It was glorious to see the entire audience singing along to the Bohemian Rhapsody encore.
However, there were a couple of faults that couldn’t be ignored. The second half took a long time to get going, with two whole songs before any plot appeared. Some lines that didn’t quite land, even with the deliberate B-movie feel; a few “creepy old man” jokes from Michael McKell’s Buddy that were slightly too creepy. If you’re ‘woke’ enough to chuck a Lizzo reference into the script, be woke enough to remove the sexual harassment. The sound engineering at times was also a tad flaky – microphones too quiet or off altogether, the band too loud (though what a cracking band it was). Little things like this can sometimes be expected from a touring production, but it was enough to jar.
It’s undeniable that the music, costumes, set, and production were all fantastic. The show itself has all the camp qualities that makes Queen great. It’s just a pity there were cracks enough that meant you couldn’t ignore them. Not that it would stop me from seeing it again, though… they’re lucky I’m an absolute nerd for sci-fi.