What do you get if you combine a retro soundtrack, Shakespeare’s Tempest and an outer space setting? This!
It was with a bit of trepidation that I took my seat for this amateur production of Return to the Forbidden Planet by EROS. Expecting cardboard and tinfoil sets and granny’s old curtains masquerading as space suits. My fears were initially allayed on seeing the set which was on full view before “curtain up”. It was professionally done and the costumes good, bearing in mind the variety of shapes and sizes they had to accommodate. The only problem was that having the set on view before hand and having the players “acting” whilst the audience took their seats, made it feel as if the action took even longer to get going. As it was there was a good bit of dialogue to set up the story before any music struck up and the show and audience took a while to warm up.
That said, there were a few standout performances – those who managed to act and sing without forgetting the other – Mike Denholm was fantastic as Dr. Prospero and Pamela Marshall as Gloria were excellent. Philip Larmour as Captain Tempest had a repertoire of tongue-in-cheek moves but his voice let him down in the lower range (he also had the look of the local dentist or accountant letting out his acting fantasies on stage, a little bit cringey) and Andrew Tasker as Cookie showed promise.
My only bug-bear with amateur productions is the lack of good diction. I know that nerves play a massive part in wanting to rush through the dialogue to just get it out, but I wish they would enunciate properly and take their time. This musical is, of course, based on The Tempest and there were Shakespearean quotes thrown in for humour all over the place, but they were completely lost in the mangled pronunciation. All in all a very good effort and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I look forward to seeing what they do with more traditional musical theatre material.