WE WILL ROCK YOU by Elton, , Writer and Director - Ben Elton, Set Designer - Mark Fisher, Costume Designer - Tim Goodchild, Lighting designer - Willie Williams, Churchill Theatre, Bromley, UK, 2019, Credit: Johan Persson

We Will Rock You

Reviewer's rating

If you are going to this show, be sure to take earplugs with you.  Not because the music is bad.  It mostly consists of well-known hits by Queen, and that is why you will be going there.  But it is ear-splittingly loud.  I had a sore head by the time I came out of the theatre.

The music, unfortunately, is for me the only reason for going to this show.  Those great numbers by Queen are well sung and played by the cast and the band.  It is just the volume that was too much for me.  But the storyline is completely preposterous.  Although Brian May is the music supervisor and, Roger Taylor, the co-producer of this ‘Rock Theatrical’, the blame must surely fall largely on the head of Ben Elton.

The tale is set in the future when the earth has become an iPlanet dominated by the Globalsoft Corporation.  Life is lived online, individuality is suppressed, and musical instruments have been eradicated.  The costumes and robotic movements of the populace are reminiscent of Metropolis and may have been suggested by the video of Radio Gaga, which used footage from that silent classic.  Two youngsters, a guy named Galileo and a ‘babe’ (or ‘chick’ – terms used by the retrograde rebels) named Scaramouche (sounds familiar?), refuse to conform and, indeed, “want to break free”.  Galileo knows nothing about the popular music of our own day, but words and song titles ranging from Elvis to Elton keep popping into his head.  He is clearly the ‘hero’ who is going to rescue mankind from its digital thrall.  He learns this when he and Scaramouche run away to join the rebel ‘Bohemians’.

The Bohemians want to smell the teen spirit, and favour punk fashion:  Mohican hairstyles, hot pants, Doc Martens, black lipstick, tattoos, and so forth.  They believe a legend that a guiding star will lead the hero, not to Bethlehem, but to a living rock from which he shall draw out the embedded ‘axe’.  Just what kind of an axe it will be is not hard to guess – not The Sword in the Stone, anyway.  But all seems lost when the Killer Queen who heads up Globalsoft tracks down the rebels to their lair, and they are hauled away by her soldiers, who look like troopers from Star Wars.

I think you get the picture.  Some of the dialogue is actually quite funny, particularly if you know a lot about pop music from the 1960s onwards, which you probably do.  And you may enjoy spotting the cultural references.  You may even, from attending rock concerts and raves, have developed a tolerance for decibels greater than my old ears.  In which case, don’t let me put you off!