Friday, 14 September 2018

 

Eugenius! at The Other Palace


Geeky, sci-fi musical Eugenius! is one of the best shows I've seen in theatre this year. In fact, I loved it so much the first time around it was playing in London I ended up seeing it twice. So I was thrilled when it was announced that the charming feel-good musical would return to its theatrical home The Other Palace for another limited run this year, with some of the main cast reuniting for another superhero-filled few months on the London stage.

Eugene and his best friends Janey and Feris are geeks and they're not ashamed of it. But it's the 80s and the rest of the world hasn't quite caught up yet to the fact that being passionate about comic books and sci-fi shows is totally cool – and these gadget-loving teenagers will be ruling the world someday. So instead of sharing his talent for drawing comics with the world, Eugene hides in his room with his work.

That is, until Janey forces him to enter a nationwide competition that could see Eugene's superhero creation Tough Man, sidekick Super Hot Lady and arch enemy Evil Lord Hector being turned into an actual Hollywood blockbuster. However, by seeing his characters come to life, Eugene might just have gotten more than he bargained before. With vain actors and genuine villains entering the film set, Eugene and his friends have to decide which battles are truly worth fighting for.

The geektastic Eugenius! has already found a cult following at The Other Palace and it's not hard to understand why this cheesy musical resonates with so many. The feel-good show celebrates the 80s, geek culture and even musical theatre with puns and references galore – sometimes explaining its own cleverness a tad too much perhaps, but most of the time delivering the razor-sharp dialogue at just the right moment for the audience to have a proper laugh.

The show has lost some its initial sparkle in its latest incarnation though. While the cast is genuinely impressive all-around, some of the softer audio choices don't give them the chance to shine as much as they can and there is a lack of chemistry between Eugene and his friends, especially Janey despite her being a potential love interest. That isn't to say there aren't moments where they connected beautifully, the revival of Comic Book Kind of Love being one example, but these are few and far in between.

The strongest moments in the show are the hilarious sequences where Simon Thomas clearly has a lot of fun portraying an Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque actor named Gerhard, more concerned with flexing his muscles than pronouncing his dialogue correctly; any scene with Scott Paige ever; and the touching moments between Janey and Feris. Laura Baldwin and Daniel Buckley both reprise their roles as Eugene's best friends with contagious energy and plenty of charm to carry the show.

Also, the music is still utterly brilliant. Tough Man, G.E.E.K., Don't Shoot for the Stars and Go Eugenius! are all so incredibly catchy that I'll be singing them for weeks to come. It's a good thing I love them so much. Huge kudos to writers Chris Wilkins and Ben Adams for creating such iconic musical numbers that capture the 80s so wonderfully.

It's great to see that this charming British show is taking its motto 'don't shoot for the stars, shoot higher' (not to be confused with the other motto running throughout – 'sleep, eat, poop, forget' – don't ask) to heart and reinventing itself for another run in the theatre. And who knows what else the future might bring? Producer Warwick Davis did hint at even bigger plans in the future, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Eugenius! is a sweet and fun musical that every (theatre) geek should experience at least once. Whether you love Star Trek or Star Wars, are more of a Marvel fan or a Justice League one, or you enjoy a heartwarming coming-of-age story about friendship and believing in yourself with catchy tunes to boot, make a trip to the Other Palace for a fun-filled evening with 80s throwbacks, pop culture references galore, and super heroes... in space.



Eugenius! is playing at The Other Palace until 21 October 2018. Get your tickets here.

🎵 Listening to: Eugenius! – Comic Book Kind of Love


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