Note: The cast has now changed since these reviews
Review by Alan Bird
17 May 2002
We Will Rock You, with story and script by Ben Elton and music and lyrics by the band Queen, will have every teenager of the 70’s and 80’s who ever owned a record by them reminiscing down memory lane. With great hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Radio GaGa”, and “I Want To Break Free”, this is a show that all Freddie Mercury fans will love. However, there is little here for the fans of musical theatre.
The plot is mediocre to say the least and the comedy is contained in simple one-line gags that hardly raise a titter. The story is based in the distant future at a time when musical instruments have been banned and kids are no longer able to make their own music. Instead they are subjected to Global Soft’s computer simulated virtual boy and girl bands, playing mindless dull boring tracks. Global Soft, the corporate giant that now controls the planet’s music industry has destroyed youth culture, turning all the boys and girls into cyber zombies whose only mission in life is to consume the company’s products.
Individuality is seen as a virus that threatens to destroy Global Soft’s market domination, and so the company’s police are used to control any kids that do not comply and to destroy their artistic creativity. However, like all tyrannical regimes they have their opponents. In this case it is the “Bohemians”, teenagers who keep alive the legend of rock music and live subversive lifestyles outside Global Soft’s control. The Bohemians are awaiting their Messiah, the “Dreamer” who will remember the music of the past and will also locate the musical instruments that were hidden away by the rock band “Queen” who apparently anticipated the death of Rock and with it the enslavement of the world’s youth.
The Killer Queen, an evil dominatrix, is Global Soft’s Chairwoman who is determined to stop the Dreamer and find and destroy Queen’s musical instruments. Will she succeed or will the Dreamer, Galileo, save Rock and the world’s youth from her evil corporate domination?
Tony Vincent, who plays Galileo, has a superb voice and definitely sounds like the late great Freddie Mercury. However, his acting ability leaves much to be desired and at times he seems lost and uncomfortable on the large Dominion stage. But give him a microphone and get him to sing and he oozes confidence. Hannah Jane Fox plays Scaramouche, Galileo’s girl friend, with great relish and irony; she brings much-needed humour to the show. Sharon D Clarke is a natural born soul singer, and she dominates the stage with her zesty performance as the Killer Queen. Nigel Clauzel is also good as Britney, the cheeky cocky guy who finds the Dreamer.
Not a great show, unless you happen to be a fan of Queen.
What other critics had to say...
"A super high energy show with a wacky story that all Queen fans will love."
Darren Dalglish for Londontheatre.co.uk
"The script remains little more than two-minute blasts of knob gags and misplaced polemic between songs, and the musical numbers have nothing to do with the script. "
Caitlin for The Times
"[Ben] Elton, when he gets his feet out of the sticky goo of this cloying parable, has the odd line which, without causing any action in the ribcage department, does promote smile lines."
Peter Clarke for THe Evening Standard
"Ben Elton, the brains behind the book, claims to be a rock fan but he has done Queen a disservice with such a trite and tacky storyline."
Fiona Sturges for The Independent
"Shallow, stupid and totally vacuous new musical."
Michael Coveney for THe Daily Mail
"Far from being guaranteed to blow your mind, We Will Rock You is guaranteed to bore you rigid. The show is prolefeed at its worst."
Charles Spencer for Daily Telegraph
"The songs are recreated meticulously. Diehard Queen fans may be satisfied...You will find nothing bohemian, and precious little that's rhapsodic, here."
Brian Logan for The Guardian
"Not even the toe-curling subtext could make a musical with Bohemian Rhapsody completely bite the dust."
Chris Bartlett for the Stage