Tuesday, 3 October 2017

REVIEW: The Toxic Avenger at the Arts Theatre

Premiering in London at the Southwark Playhouse last year, Toxic Avenger returns to London after a hugely successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe. Now playing at the Arts Theatre through to December 3rd. 

Based on the 1984 cult classic, The Toxic Avenger follows the story of a small town hero who gets dunked in toxic waste after trying to clean up the problem. Add in a corrupt Mayor, a New Jersey mother and a blind love interest and you get this. 

The story is completely bizarre and silly but its perfect escapism. With whats going on in the world at the moment, shows like The Book of Mormon are what we need and this follows in their footsteps. 

The music is brilliant and you’ll leave singing them, Joe Dipietro and David Bryan have done a fantastic job on this show. The book is funny and flows well and the music is modern and memorable. A mention must go to the band as well, you wouldn't realise it was a small team. Their little acting auditions absolutely topped the night off for me! 

Benji Sperring understands comedy and he has pushed all the boundaries with his direction in this production, a director I will definitely be looking out for in the future. 

The design of this show has been done by Takis, whose other work include Five Guys Named Moe, In the Heights, Side Show and Flashdance, and this was a really cool! I love the set and thought it was innovative and different. Not so sure on the automation, maybe a step too far. But everything else was really cool and looked fantastic. 

Mark Anderson returns to this role of Toxie after playing it at the Southwark Playhouse and you can absolutely see why. He is perfect in this role, his vocals were on point and his comic timing is excellent. 

Emma Salvo plays Sarah, the blind love interest. And she’s an absolute star! She is hilarious in the role and her big numbers are the highlights of the night. 

Natalie Hope gives you vocals that could kill as the Mayor and a body that could do even more damage. A hilarious portrayal and her doubling up in the closing of act 1 was both exhausting to watch and pure slapstick genius. 

Ché Francis (Black Dude) and Oscar Conlon-Morrey (White Dude) were the perfect comedy duo, filling in the caps with all the extra characters in the show. A special mention to Mr Conlon-Morrey who makes his professional debut in this show and is the funniest person on that stage. Genius casting and one to watch. 

A common theme with this fantastic cast and the direction is they have nailed the comedy, which is vital in getting this show right. And they exceeded that!

My only criticism was that the end of act 1 didn’t seem like the best place to break, which left it feeling slightly disjointed at the interval. However they bounced back and the second act totally redeemed itself. 

This is a fun show and one that is needed in London at the moment. Its an alternative to The Book of Mormon and a quarter of the price. This is on our must see list so make sure you head down down to the Arts Theatre and see this whilst its around! 

Review by Mark Swale 

Rating: ★★★★★

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