It’s not often that an original piece of writing can tickle the nerves of a stressed student in the peak of 7th week – and yet this is just what the new play Redacted Arachnid did at the Burton Taylor Studio last night. I admit to having mixed expectations walking into the theatre – not sure how a play based on a musical, based on a comic would translate into the BT; especially one based on a super-hero I knew virtually nothing about. However, it can be said that my doubts wholly were misplaced. The pre-set of the show consisted of just a few stools, two red and blue super-hero-like lighting effects and the nostalgic theme tune playing in the background, making it clear that what we were about to watch was going to fully embrace the hilarity of the biggest musical flop in Broadway history.
The show started with good pace and laughs-per minute, jumping quickly between narrator and frenzied creatives of this new project – ‘Reacted Arachnid: Switch off the night’ – a comic book rock opera circus musical. In a play as fast moving as this, the costumes, props and set were all kept to an understandable minimum to allow the strength of the writing and acting to shine through. The lighting was also cleverly designed to make up for the minimal set, moving us regularly back and forth over the 4th wall and into the number of different settings. Whilst on the one hand the synchronicity between the lighting changes and the actors could have been a lot cleaner, the overall intended effect seemed to come through and work within the realms of the show.
I could not write a review about this without mentioning the versatility and comedic timing of the well-rehearsed cast. Barron and co.’s script had each actor jumping between roles every other scene, which had the potential to become confusing and messy, however the clever use of physicality and accents by the actors pulled this off with a great amount of style and humour. Particularly notable performances were that of James Akka (especially Daneil Ezralow, the flamboyant choreographer of the musical), and Harrison Gale, who pulled off their many characters with great comedic timing and style.
There were moments where the show felt as though it dragged a little, the long interview scene towards the end, for example, and there were also a few moments when jokes seemed to miss their target or felt a little too Dad-jokey to get a laugh. However, there were by far enough pockets of gold in this to gloss over these moments. Rather, it felt as though everyone was enjoying the series of disasters that created the worst musical flop in history just as much as the writers did, and there were definitely enough laughs to keep everyone smiling, if not balled over laughing, throughout the whole show.
Overall this was a really fun, fast-paced, well put together insight into some hilariously disastrous true events. So if you’re looking for a 7th week pick-me-up I’d seriously recommend getting yourself a ticket to see this before it inevitably sells out!