Don’t Feed the Plants…!
Little Shop of Horrors, Stone Revellers, St Michael’s Hall, Saturday 28th March. Review by SALLIE TAMS
Seymour Krelborn is an orphan and a nerd. He likes strange and interesting plants, but when he purchases one from a Chinese flower shop during a solar eclipse, little does he realise what far-reaching effects this will have for himself and everybody he cares about.
He works and lives at Mushnik’s Flower Shop, the struggling and run-down skid row store owned by the grouchy and penny-pinching Mr Mushnik who grudgingly took him in as a child. The shop is teetering on the verge of closure due to lack of customers.
Audrey—Seymour’s co-worker and the woman he secretly adores and yearns for and who is stuck in a dead-end relationship with the sadistic and nitrous-oxide addicted dentist, Orin—mentions the strange and interesting new plant Seymour has been nurturing. She suggests it might be useful to them for attracting more business and so Seymour presents the plant to Mushnik. He is unimpressed by the thing, an ugly arrangement of a large bud surrounded by layers of leaves; Seymour has lovingly named it Audrey II.
When Mushnik threatens to finally shut up shop for good, Seymour puts Audrey II into the window where it immediately attracts a customer, who much to everybody’s delight spends a large amount of money in the shop. It doesn’t take long before word gets around abou this strange and interesting plant and trade picks up. Very soon the store is doing record business but all is not well, not only is Audrey II not growing, the plant is sickly and dying. Seymour tries everything but it is only when he accidentally pricks his finger and a few drops of blood fall on Audrey II he realises the plant has very, very unique needs.
The Little Shop of Horrors is both a love story and a cautionary tale about the consequences of pursuing our desires at all costs.
Stone Revellers have a very impressive pedigree stretching back some 37 years and I have to say this production really lived up to it. From the transformation of St Michael’s Hall into an intimate theatre setting to the solicitous ushers and the smooth running of interval refreshments, the level of organization was first class.
It is hard to choose a standout performance among the talented cast but I have to say the vocals for Audrey II provided by Anthony Clewes were a highlight. Alec Voss was the perfect and thoroughly believable Mushnik: grouchy, irascible, with an eye on the money and a razor-sharp tongue. His accent was spot-on. Cheryl Duke was delightful, fragile and wounded with a flawless blend of wide-eyed naivety and resignation as the ditsy Audrey. Daniel Leadbetter delivered many laughs—his own, fueled by the character’s addiction to ‘giggle gas’, and those of the audience generated by the fabulous comedic moments he brought the role of the sadistic, leather-clad dentist Orin. Rob Stanway invoked a wonderful mix of bewilderment and nerdyness in his portrayal of Seymour trying only to do the right thing but succeeding in doing very, very wrong things—again a completely believable performance.
The characters of Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon, a wandering Greek chorus played by Bethany Harrison, Natasha Wearing and Millie Angus created a fullness to the production, moving the story along as sometime voices of reason and with some lovely light moments of wryness combined with their beautiful voices. The company wove seamlessly in and out of the storyline adding a further dimension and polish to the whole performance.
One must not overlook the hard-working Matthew Sykes who gave us a menacing and blood-thirsty Audrey II inside what must have been a very warm costume.
Full marks to the musicians under Musical Director, Carl Gratty for an impeccable performance that added another dimension to this production.
Under the direction of James Dawe this challenging production was delivered with a panache and verve that was every bit worthy of the 37-year pedigree of Stone Revellers. I was also pleased to see that this adaptation had reverted to the original ending.
This was the first time I have seen the company in performance and it certainly won’t be the last. What a jewel in the town of Stone and how fortunate we are to have them in our midst.
Look out for Stone Revellers’ next presentation of Father Ted, 9-13 June 2015 St Michael’s Hall, Stone.