THE spaceship Albatross breaks free from the gravitational pull of probability and goes into cultural overdrive in this bizarre show that is fast and often exhilarating, if somewhat confusing at times.
The Woodhouse Operatic Society has begun to make a speciality of ambitious productions of ‘new wave’ musicals that depart from the conventional Broadway genre.
Return to the Forbidden Planet dresses its cast like the crew of Star Trek and sends them into space, spouting Shakespeare and singing pop and rock hits of the 1950s and 1960s.
The energy and musical accomplishment of cast keeps the concept afloat.
If you are a pop music buff, you will enjoy the long procession of venerable chart hits, pressed in to service – Mamma Mia-like – to elaborate on the plot.
Hence, a meteor attack is the cue for Great Balls Of Fire and so on.
The device seems strained at first, but rapidly becomes effective and even well-chewed bubblegum like Teenager In Love acquires a sort of musical dignity.
Meanwhile, Shakespeare buffs will enjoy spotting the sources of the dialogue, which consists almost entirely of excerpts from the Bard’s plays – not just The Tempest, on which the plot, following the sci-movie Forbidden Planet, is based.
The storyline revolves around the USS Albatross’s encounter with the warped genius Dr Prospero and his experiments with mind-bending drugs.
The narrative is not the clearest aspect of David Lockwood’s production, but he has created a very entertaining, fast-paced show with super performances, especially singing ones, in the lead roles.
Choreographer Cathy Peters ensures that there is constant action on stage and musical director Caroline Robinson has assembled a very fine band that performs in full view on an upper deck of the spaceship.
The production concludes with a rock and roll workout that is a modern-ish equivalent of the stage jigs with which Shakespeare concluded his plays at the Globe.
You would be hard pressed not to enjoy this show, which continues until Saturday, when there is also a matinee.
TITLE: Return to the Forbidden Planet.
ARTISTS: Woodhouse Operatic Society.
VENUE: Lawrence Batley Theatre
BY: WILLIAM MARSHALL