8 Sep

BY Chris Wilkins and Ben Adams
This hilarious comic book musical has returned to the Other Palace due to public demand. It already has a huge vociferous fan base , and they attend every performance recognising and cheering on their favourite characters.
The show is set in the nineteen eighties –Well – who wants to see a jolly comedy show set in the present troubled age? OK, that is one reason The more important one is that the brilliant young composers find themselves more at home with the nineteen eighties style.
As it turns out the show has the best new tunes in town, and the script is wonderfully silly..
Basically it’s a ‘geek beats all’ story. Eugene played by the ever lovely Rob Houchen is beaten up by his bullying peers, mainly for being cleverer than all the rest of them. He is no hero, it is his girlfriend Janey who beats up the bullies . Laura Baldwin plays Janey and has done through many of its incarnations. The other old timer is Daniel Buckley who plays Eugene’s best chum Feris. This character is a real audience pleaser whose appearance is greeted with roars of approval from the fans.
Eugene spends his time locked in the fantasy world of his book and his hero Tough Man. The title of Tough Man is a stroke of Eugenious, as it tells us right from the beginning that there is absolutely nothing remotely serious or sensible about this piece of theatre. The heroine is called Super Hot Lady. Which totally proves this point.
Janey, his pretty witty girl friend puts his comic story up for a competition – which it naturally, wins and the three chums take off for Hollywood where the Tough Man movie is to be made.
Once in Hollywood we have the self important director Lex Hogan portrayed by Alex Bourne in a glamorous white suit to match his luscious white hair, and his highly camp production assistant, the adorably cuddly and very funny Scott Paige. Plus some typically miscast Hollywood stars. Simon Thomas as a German accented Tough Man and Emily Tierney as the awkwardly immovable Super Hot Lady. There are also a load of fish people in addition to the characters in Eugene’s book.
Lex Hogan advises Augene ‘You gotta perform a little kiss ass’ to succeed in the movie business.
However the extra planetary stories click in and we zoom into fantasy. The creation of Tough Man is explained and Tough Man’s villainous twin brother arrives. The Evil Lord Hector played by Neil McDermott has been somehow thrown off his own planet and he is spinning around the Universe trying to find and kill his twin brother.(not sure why)
In addition to the hilarity, there are some really interesting numbers –‘Comic book king of Love’ is beautifully performed by Rob Houchen and of course the rabble rousing number which has the audience joining in – both the song and the accompanying gestures. ‘Go Eugenius’ was the one I found myself singing all the way home.
The kind of entertainment we need , directed by Ian Talbot with Darren Lloyds as musical director and produced by Kevin Wood, George Wood and Warwick Davis.
A show for all the family and kids of all ages from three to a hundred and three. Love It!

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