We Will Rock You, Dominion Theatre, London

Caught between rock and a hard-sell place

Review,Fiona Sturges
Wednesday 15 May 2002 00:00
Comments

Imagine the pitch: a musical based upon the songs of Queen, put on with the blessing of original band members, the guitarist Brian May and bass player Roger Taylor, and the patronage of Robert De Niro's production company, TriBeCa.

So far so good, but then comes the plot. The year is 2302 and earth has become Planet Mall (geddit?), a place where kids wear the same clothing, where rock music is banned, and musical instruments are a relic of a bygone age. This is a land where globalisation is complete and an organisation called Globalsoft, led by the Killer Queen, reigns supreme. The enemies of the state are the Bohemians, a group of outcasts who live underground – in this case, underground means Tottenham Court Road Tube station – and are in constant search of "the lost vibe", music that existed centuries ago that now only resides in memories passed down through the ages.

Then we have the inevitable love story between our two young rebels, Galileo and Scaramouche. Sound bad? You don't know the half of it.

Surely they could have come up with something better than this. 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.

The set, at least, is impressive. Sophisticated hydraulics and huge video screens bearing computer-animated scenes conjure up a colourful, if rather unimaginative, vision of the future. The choreography is similarly slick with dancers in cyber-punk outfits carrying out their duties for the mistress Killer Queen.

"Another One Bites The Dust" is played out in front of a giant computer game. With each chorus, another alien ship is blown apart.

The message in all this, however, is rather dubious. This is a show that celebrates individuality and berates corporate ownership yet flogs T-shirts, scarves and hats bearing the words "We Will Rock You" out in the foyer.

In some of the songs the lyrics have been changed to incorporate references to cyberspace – rather cringingly, "Radio Gaga" becomes "Internet Gaga". Yet the musical comes with its own website where you can book tickets and watch Elton give his own special introduction to the show. There are more inconsistencies, such as the fact that the Killer Queen, a ruler who rails against the destructive powers of rock 'n' roll, arrives as a soul diva and belts out songs with the lung capacity of Aretha Franklin.

Happily though, the songs stay largely true to the originals. "Under Pressure", "Killer Queen", "Somebody To Love" and "I Want To Break Free" all remind you how fabulous Queen were and will have even the most curmudgeonly punter tapping their feet.

But it's hard to see the point of making a musical out of them when you can simply go out and buy a record.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in