Review: Little Shop of Horrors

Suzie Burlton 8 March 2012

Little Shop of Horrors

Magdalene Cripps Auditorium, 7.30pm, until Sat 10th March


I am one of those unnerving people who can sit through a show apparently stony-faced while actually enjoying myself immensely, so the fact that I could hardly stop smiling throughout Little Shop of Horrors is a testament to how all-round far out it is (to use some semi-appropriate slang). And I promise no carnivorous alien plant is making me say this.

To start with, I’m a stickler for what I believe are the absolute basics of theatre, like audibility and clothes that fit where they’re supposed to, and this show did not tick a single one of my “People Who” boxes. But wait! There’s more. (Gasp!)

The most beautiful thing is how seamlessly every aspect of the production is integrated. The actors move fluidly from dialogue (in flawless NYC accents) to song while the band just happily slips in behind them without it seeming awkward. The choreography, which is seriously jivin’, flows perfectly from the actors’ normal movements. You don’t have the uneasy sense that this is the first time the cast have seen the set and props (which includes a real Dansette, for fellow geeks of the Phil-Spector-a-go-go period, for whom this production ought to be compulsory) – the mastication’s of Audrey II don’t make you cringe, as they could have done, but rather shudder in fear and delight. It is so rare to see such technical and artistic unity in a Cambridge production.

The will-they-won’t-they-surely-they-must-omg-they’re-so-cute-oh-no-don’t-do-it romance between Seymour and Audrey is just too adorable for words, and Audrey in particular has a way of pausing just before a punchline which creates such delightful anticipation. In fact, all of the main actors hit their characters’ respective bulls-eyes. However, my favourite scene is the one in the dentist’s surgery. It really encapsulates the pastiche of horror films and the jazzy grimness, helped along by those daring leather trousers…

There are a few tiny niggles. Unless you sit in the front row, the sound balance between singers and band will be all wrong and you won’t be able to hear the lyrics (which are certainly worth hearing!). Also, the radio mics. Why, God, why did you curse radio mics? They always go fuzzy. Every. Single. Show. Is it some inbuilt flaw or are all the sound designers in Cambridge incompetent? It must be the former. Also, if the stewards don’t want you to sit in some seats, they could put ‘reserved’ signs on them instead of having to tell every audience member individually. And don’t buy a programme: the photos are essentially one pixel and they don’t give the characters each actor is playing.

But those are my only criticisms, so make sure you head uptown to see this before it sells out – as it ought to!

Suzie Burlton