Review: Little Shop of Horrors, at Regent’s Park Open-Air Theatre
17 August, 2018 — By Paul Cowling
Vicky Vox in Little Shop of Horrors. Photo: Johan Persson
FROM a little shop’s seeds, grows a love story that is bloodthirsty, plant-based fun of the highest, campest order. Pop punk boybander Matt Willis just edges it ahead of drag queen Vicky Vox, as the show’s stealer.
Busted’s Willis easily gets his teeth into the role of Orin – the snarling, giggling, girlfriend-bashing dentist, with a liking for the rough stuff; rusty, claret-spattered drill bits and the self-inhalation of nitrous oxide gas.
In the shiny green and purple Spandex corner is Vox – as Audrey II – the eventual, larger-than-life plant that feeds on bloody, human tissue rather than Miracle Gro.
Audrey II is nurtured at Mushnik’s garden store by the geeky, feeble, love-struck Seymour (Marc Antolin) in honour of proper Audrey (Jemima Rooper), the woman he works with and adores, and the girlfriend that Orin gives black eyes and arm fractures to on a regular basis.
Soon all hell and shop horror breaks loose as the “Audrey II” plant just can’t stop chomping bits of limb and flesh. But just whose bits is Audrey II munching? And just how many tenement buildings will her tentacles envelop and spout out from?
In the meantime, Mr Mushnik (played with slapstick perfection by Forbes Masson) can only see dollar signs, as word gets round about Seymour’s quirky seedling. Suddenly, plants once rooted to Mushnik’s shop shelving, are flying off them.
These plant props are a quirky joy: a verdant mix of toilet brushes, dog toy ball launchers and Slinkies. The general set matches the slickness of the New York production.
Hobos and street bums push shopping carts full of life’s few possessions and the skyscrapers that tower over their miserable lives. Everything starts off dreadnought grey, but as the skies darken above the open-air crowd, the set bathes in a green chlorophyll glow and the show comes to life. So too does the audience.
Until September 22
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