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Theatre Review: We Will Rock You at Royal Concert Hall

26 November 19 words: Becki Crossley

A stormin' show, full of bangers mashed together to create summat razzle-dazzle... 

We Will Rock You takes place in a distant future where everyone thinks, dresses and acts the same – everyone except a group of rebel bohemians, fighting against the dominating corporation Globosoft with the dream of rock and roll. All this is set to the timeless catalog of Queen’s greatest hits, incorporated into the story by Ben Elton with the help of Brian May and Roger Taylor.

When the show opened and a galaxy of stars rushed towards the audience to the opening bars of Innuendo, I already had goosebumps. Straight into a sharply choreographed rendition of Radio Ga Ga and I was ready to be blown away for the next couple of hours

From then on though, it got a little less consistently awesome. 

The key performers practically blasted the audience with incredibly powerful vocals (as they’d need to, standing in the shadow of Freddie Mercury), and the ensemble never missed a beat. Whether the perfectly in-sync One Vision by the Globosoft employees or the excitingly chaotic performance of Crazy Little Thing Called Love by the rebels, each song was full of energy and clearly well-practiced. 

But the hardworking cast was let down a little by some slightly less finessed technical and staging elements, in what appeared to be a classic case of first-night teething issues. While the set itself was endlessly impressive in its ever-changing backdrop of the future, there was almost always a stagehand to be seen trying to stabilise a piece of wall or getting into place to move the next piece of the set. 

At one point, with the lights fully up, two members of the backstage crew ran onstage, headsets and all, to wheel away a large prop. Comical rebel Buddy (Michael McKell) had to dance across the stage in front of this removal, grinning knowingly at the audience, in a way that was both very funny but quite obviously not supposed to happen.

The two leads – Ian McIntosh as Galileo and Elena Skye as Scaramouche – wowed with their ability to flawlessly hold every impressive note, though the chemistry between these two lovers often fell a little flat. However, this may have been simply in comparison to the chemistry between the rebel bohemian Oz, and pretty much everyone else on stage. From her first appearance to the final bow, Amy Di Bartolemo’s powerful voice and electric energy left you wanting to see even more of her in every scene.

Not to mention the way that Jenny O’Leary as Killer Queen absolutely captivated the audience in every one of her numbers – you couldn’t take your eyes off her, and not just because her extravagant costumes were made almost entirely from glitter. She was the villain of the story, but any time O’Leary was on stage you were almost rooting for her to stomp on everyone with her leather stiletto boots. 

Working with the music of Queen, We Will Rock You was always going to have you tapping your feet, clapping along and often grinning at the spectacle. The experience was made somewhat inconsistent by some of the sound and staging issues, but nevertheless the entire cast fully deserved the standing ovation they received after a rousing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody in the encore.

We Will Rock You plays at Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall until Saturday 30 November 2019

Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall website