Reviewed by Lorna Templeton
If your idea of a festive night at the theatre doesn’t involve a panto, your choices can be rather limited. Not so in Glasgow this year, as the massively successful, award-winning Queen musical We Will Rock You has roared into town.
The show has been pulling in audiences young and old worldwide for almost 2 decades yet still feels fresh and vibrant.
Set over 1000 years in the future, in a world where life is lived almost entirely online and rock music has long since died out, the rogue band of “bohemians” find their prophesied leader in disenfranchised youth Galileo Figaro, and his fellow rebel and love interest Scaramouche. Together they attempt to defeat the all-powerful corporation GlobalSoft and liberate the minds of the youth of the world.
The dialogue is peppered with modern song references to great comedic effect, and the characters have Queen-inspired names (Killer Queen, Khashoggi) and rock icons (Ozzy Osbourne, Buddy Holly, Britney Spears…!) which ties together the whole theme cleverly. The smart one-liners (mainly falling to Elena Skye as Scaramouche and delivered with perfect dry wit) and sly innuendo land well with the audience, and the story zips along without ever feeling laboured. Ben Elton’s script is self-aware enough to allow the audience to forgive some tenuous links and gaps in logic!
Ian McIntosh stands out vocally throughout as Galileo, and more than does justice to the late Freddie Mercury’s performances. Elena Skye (Scaramouche) delivers some of the real high points of the show in her vocal performances, with “Somebody to Love” a particular highlight, as well as having the best hair and wardrobe in the show!
“No One But You” is always a big moment in this show, and Ami di Bartolomeo sings it beautifully. Adam Strong as Khashoggi also showed off a strong voice which it would have been nice to hear more of. Jenny O’Leary commands the stage and is a joy to watch as the Killer Queen. The whole ensemble cast sing and dance flawlessly.
The staging is ingenious, with much of the set comprising screens which seamlessly transport us from post-apocalyptic rubbish dumps to futuristic technological headquarters, and give the production the feel of a movie while retaining the intimacy of a live cast.
In an era saturated with jukebox musicals, We Will Rock You stands head and shoulders above the rest. The storyline is not the strongest, but it doesn’t need to be, the music is the star of the show and the sheer depth and quality of the Queen back-catalogue is a joy to experience. The show’s enduring popularity is testament to the ageless quality of the music, with only “Radio Gaga” showing its age lyrically, which the show cleverly identifies and modernises. There’s no “dad-rock” here for the kids to roll their eyes at, it feels as fresh as anything made today.
The long-awaited Bohemian Rhapsody finale has the whole theatre on their feet singing along.
Unsurprisingly the show has sold well at this venue and has been rewarded with a long run until 28th December. It’s a cut above many current touring musicals and well worth seeing. The multiple massive standing ovations on the Monday night showing are unlike anything I’ve seen at this theatre before; the Theatre Royal had better secure their roof before the weekend crowds arrive!
A fabulous evening which will guarantee you leave the theatre smiling, and rediscovering your Queen’s Greatest Hits CD!
Tickets cost from £13 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
We Will Rock You is at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow from 9-28 December 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.atgtickets.com/venues/theatre-royal-glasgow or call the box office on 0844 871 7647.
Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA | 0844 871 7647