Snakes! The Musical has enjoyed success as a cult hit at Reading and Edinburgh Fringe festivals and has now made it into the West End for a three week run at the Leicester Square Theatre.
The concept is a musical about putting on a musical of the b-movie Snakes on a Plane. We, the audience, are quickly established in our role as the producers to whom the writer-director (Thom Sellwood) is pitching the show with the help of his two sidekicks (Will Guppy and Marina Waters) in the hope of securing £50million to produce Snakes! at the Palladium.
The show opens with the aptly titled number ‘A Snakey Opening’ and it was clear from the outset that the next 70 minutes were going to be interesting. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it but as the number progressed, the facial expressions and dance moves got more and more deranged and I realised I was in for a treat.
As a show with a cast of three, each playing multiple characters, no costumes and no set it has every opportunity to be a total disaster. Instead, though, it’s a kind of genius. The show’s success is testament to quality of the writing – it’s sharp, witty and fast paced. The musical numbers are hilarious, keeping the audience-come-producers belly laughing throughout.
The acting performances delivered by Guppy and Waters are really very good – switching between multiple characters at what seems to be several times a second with only a change of accent and some over-the-top facial expressions differentiating between each. The audience, though, is never left at a loss as to who’s who.
Guppy has a noteworthy singing voice which wouldn’t be out of place in a Disney film; Waters isn’t going to be playing Elphaba any time soon, but does that really matter here? No. That’s not what this show is about. This is a comedy show, parodying the twee and cliché of musical theatre through the lens of what can only be described as a sort of psychedelic trip.
My face hurt from smiling all the way through and it’s well worth an hour or so of your time to see something a bit different and creative. I’d love to see the guys from Quite Nice Theatre get their own TV sketch show, where I think they’d feel very at home, in order to bring this fresh writing style to a wider audience.
Reviewed by Pete Cowell
Snakes! The Musical is playing at the Leicester Square Theatre until 19 October 2014.