Sunday, 22 May 2016

'The Toxic Avenger' Southwark Playhouse ****

For me, a musical must contain an effective plot, energetic musical numbers and flawless choreographic sequences, plus the other elements have to be amazing too in order for us to grip us into the show. Southwark Playhouse’s production of Joe DiPietro’s musical, ‘The Toxic Avenger’ which has been adapted for the stage from Lloyd Kaufman’s 1984 film of the same name was a resplendent rendition that definitely leaves you with a smile on your face, accompanying this, the portrayals were fabulously performed.

‘The Toxic Avenger’ is set in Tromaville, New Jersey where we are cultivated with Melvin Fred the Thrid who dreams of being an earth scientist who wants to disinfect the state of the USA. When Melvin enters Tromaville Library, he meets Sarah, the Librarian who happens to be blind, he then explains what he wants to achieve and for Sarah, this is a bit of a turn on and asks to feel his facein which he is reluctant for her to do so. The town’s mayor, Mayor Babs Belgoody is actually the one responsible for permitting the disposal of the toxic waste and when Melvin confronts her and due to the fact that she desires to be New Jersey’s governor, she instructs two goons, Sluggo and Bozo to kill him. They throw Melvin into a deep drum which is packed to the rafters of toxic waste. However, when the two idiots mock Sarah, Melvin rises out of the green sludge who when he comes to Sarah’s rescue and leads to Sluggo and Bozo’s ultimate demise. When Sarah wakes up, she thinks that due to that Melvin has called himself “Toxic” that he is French and refers to him as Toxie. Over the course of the performance, Sarah is exceedingly ecstatic with her new found love, on the other hand for Toxie’s mother, Ma Ferd who is traumatised by her sons new appearance and as such; she visits the town’s eccentric scientist, Professor Ken on how to kill Toxie. He then explains that household bleach is what will do the trick. The Mayor’s deceitful actions continue where she administers the undocking of mammoth shipments of toxic waste, nonetheless, Toxie blocks her plan and announces that he’s Melvin Ferd the Third and when the Mayor states that she’ll obliterate him, on the contrary, she is shocked when Toxie has become a folk hero to the people of Tromaville. Reeling by Toxie’s hero status, the Mayor goes into Professor Ken’s lab and vows that she’ll murder Toxie  and when Melvin’s mother’s two hairdressers, Lorenzo and Lamas tell her that her childhood rival who is the Mayor of all people and an almighty brawl occurs. Throughout the show, Sarah rejects Toxie and clearly he’s upset and goes on a violent rampage, then again, Ma Ferd sits Sarah down and helps her through the fact that all men are just immature beings. Mayor Babs rallies round a group of people in order to chuck the bleach all over him, but Sarah steps in a shoots the horrible woman down, but Toxie is hit with the bleach anyway. At the finale, Toxie regains mindfulness and one year pasts and Ma Ferd makes people aware of whom the new first family of New Jersey are and the governor is Governor Toxie Ferd the Third, with Sarah as is his wife and they have a baby together. DiPietro’s narrative is wondrous as we’re taken on a very funny journey of how a human has become a somewhat superhero and how he falls in love with a blind woman, also David Byron’s musical numbers like “My Big French Boyfriend”, “The Legend of the Toxic Avenger”, “All Men Are Freaks” and “A Brand New Day in New Jersey” were and vastly side-splitting too.   

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Toxic Avenger’ to be stupendous as all the quick changes from one role to another encapsulated the tone of the shows atmosphere such as Ashley Samuels and Marc Pickering who portray White and Black Dude.  Mark Anderson is admirable as Melvin Ferd the Third/Toxie; primarily how we see that someone who has a really right future as an earth scientist feel foul to awful bullies, but through this, he mustered up the strength through his new form to fight against a Mayor who is destroying the town’s landscape and his vocals in “You Tore My Heart Out” showed his human genetics. Hannah Grower is magnificent as Toxie’s visually impaired lover, Sarah; particularly how we see that despite the fact that she is blind, she does not let that stop her as she wants to write a book, furthermore, the blossoming love with Toxie shows how much she is actually a pleasant person who does not seem to care about his deformities. Lizzii Hills is amazing as both Ma Fred/ Mayor Babs Belgoody; chiefly with the “Bitch/Slut/Liar/Whore” sequence where the two characters turn round to combat one another was quite possible one of the most hilarious moments I have seen in a musical this year. 

Benji Sperring’s direction and Lucie Pankhurst’s choreography is wonderful here as they have been able to capture the very comical aspect of the show to its full potential and the characterisations were second to none through the rapid changes that makes the musical for what it is and it was very pleasing to have the direction and choreography matching one another especially for a Fringe piece of theatre. Mike Lees’ set and costume designs were incredible as we were transported to the town of Tromaville immediately where and the lighting design by Nic Farman really complimented this and the green suggested the toxic part of the show itself. Moreover, the scenic elements such as the art and construction were impressive for a show in such a small theatrical venue that I actually like visiting on a regular basis. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Toxic Avenger’ to be a categorically ideal and flawless musical that made me so joyous that I did laugh and applaud after each musical number which is what musicals should do successfully.

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