Tag Archives: Return to the Forbidden Planet

REVIEW: Return to the Forbidden Planet – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/return-to-the-forbidden-planet-kings-theatre-glasgow/

25 years on and Bob Carlton’s quite frankly bonkers idea to take Shakespeare’s The Tempest, by way of 1956 sci-fi movie classic Forbidden Planet and turn it into a musical jam-packed with the greatest hits of the 50s and 60s, is still wowing audiences up and down the country.

The success of the Olivier Award-winning Return to the Forbidden Planet, and why it is still able to entertain a quarter of a century on, is down to several factors: the sheer good-natured spirit which imbues the whole  production, there is joy and silliness oozing out of every pore; there’s the unbelievable talent of its multi-instrumentalist cast – there isn’t a weak link among them and each pours their heart and soul into their performance; there’s the chance to play clever-Dick and see how many Shakespearean quotes you can spot and the plays they came from, and of course, there’s the outstanding soundtrack of the great and the good from the golden age of rock and roll. What’s not to love?

The show’s greatest strength on this tour is its cast, and as churlish as it may seem to single out any particular performers, there are a few standouts who deserve mention: as Cookie, Mark Newnham’s musicianship is exceptional, in particular during “She’s Not There”, where he manages, with ease, in a guitar solo, to fit in riffs from: “Smoke on the Water”, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Purple Haze” to name just a few, couple this with a show-stopping voice and he’s a talent to watch. Sean Needham, returning to the role of Captain Tempest, is as fine-voiced as ever and Christine Holman (Gloria) and Sarah Scowen (Miranda) both possess voices which could blow the roof off.

Return to the Forbidden Planet isn’t without its faults: yes, the hits have been shoe-horned into the plot, yes, the storyline is a slight as silver, yes, it’s as cheesy as Camembert, yes, the set is as (intentionally) ropey as it ever was (wobbling microphones and spray-painted hairdryer guns) but you wouldn’t or couldn’t have it any other way and boy is it easy to forgive it all because it is just so damned entertaining.

If it’s wall-to-wall hits, a top-class cast and an evening of pure escapism on a cold winter’s night you’re after then you need look no further than Return to the Forbidden Planet. Jokey, joyous, irreverent, infectious, its ability to get an audience on its feet remains undiminished after all these years – it’s good to have it back.

5 *****

Runs until Sat 14 February 2015, then touring.

REVIEW: Return to the Forbidden Planet – Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock

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.