Eugenius! at The Other Palace
Following a successful concert production at the London Palladium in 2016 and a popular first run earlier this year, Eugenius! returns to The Other Palace, receiving thundering applause after every song and a standing ovation at the finale. There’s no question about it: this show is here to stay.
On the surface, the plot isn’t particularly spectacular. Socially awkward Eugene (Rob Houchen), a geeky would-be comic book writer, suffers from bullying at school and takes refuge in the world of his creation, superhero Tough-Man. But with the support of his friends Janey (Laura Baldwin) – who has a crush on him – and Feris (Daniel Buckley), he manages to rise beyond the stars when he and his vision are discovered by Hollywood producer Lex (Alex Bourne) and his assistant Theo (Scott Paige). Little does the protagonist know that his imaginary characters are real, and that he must rise to become the hero of his own story to save the world from the threat of the Evil Lord Hector (Neil McDermott).
But the clichéd tale is entirely tongue-in-cheek. With absolute self-awareness, the show pokes fun at all stale stereotypes from the sounds and cinema of the 80s. Dialogue and tracks are brimming with more pop-cultural references than Ready Player One. And it succeeds entirely: almost every joke leaves the audience roaring with laughter, each scene of absurd sci-fi action reminiscent of Flash Gordon is hilarious to watch. Brian Blessed’s bombastic voice in the over-the-top narration perfects the entertainment.
To add to the musical’s success, the score by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins is gorgeous to hear, with one catchy tune following another. By the end, the onlookers are enthusiastically singing along to the refrain of Go Eugenius! Director Ian Talbot ensures that the entire performance runs smoothly with pitch-perfect choreography, lighting and ludicrous costumes.
The greatest strength of the production is undoubtedly its appeal to nostalgia, with references ranging from Les Misérables and Kiss of the Spider Woman to Star Wars and Superman. No matter which generation, no matter what taste, enthusiasts of every calibre will find something to enjoy in this show.
Eugenius! does not change the way we look at musicals. But it does guarantee a spectacular evening filled to the brim with uplifting and catchy songs, hilarious dialogues from heart-warmingly ridiculous characters, and genuinely heartfelt passion. One word of warning: you’ll have a tough time getting those earworms out of your head.
Photo: Scott Rylander
Eugenius! is at The Other Palace from 1st September until 20th October 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch Laura Baldwin and Liam Forde speak about their roles in Eugenius! here: