Queen's a gas at The Mercury

We Will Rock You by Queen and Ben Elton, CO2 at Colchester Mercury until Saturday.Not quite a musical, this is nevertheless tremendous, exuberant fun, especially if you like Queen music played at a volume to shiver your liver.

We Will Rock You by Queen and Ben Elton, CO2 at Colchester Mercury until Saturday.

NOT quite a musical, this is nevertheless tremendous, exuberant fun, especially if you like Queen music played at a volume to shiver your liver. Clearly, it hit the spot with the first night audience, who leapt to their feet to give a long-standing ovation to CO2, the junior wing of Colchester Operatic, in this sock-it-to-them autumn production.

Ben Elton has woven a splendidly nutty story into the songs of Brian May, Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor and Co, full of clever pun-loaded jokes and slick lines from all sorts of famous songs - the Beatles, Elvis et al - to push the somewhat thin but inventive narrative along.

The show is set in the year 2304 on Planet Mall, ruled by the Killer Queen's company Globalsoft. It has banned singing, instruments and any creativity or individual thought. All music is computer-composed.


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But driven by information garnered from ancient texts, a group of rebels, called the Bohemians, strive to discover the lost art of rock - whatever that may be!

However, first they must find a leader and when Gabriel Figaro and his new-found girlfriend Scaramouche stumble into their hideout the rebels think they've found their saviour.

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Heartbreak Hotel, as the hideaway is known, is full of characters who have taken their names from faded posters - one man's called himself Britney Spears, a girl is named after Meatloaf and another chap is called The Jackson Five.

Gabriel has plenty of pluck but it's Scaramouche's brains that carry the rebels to rock'n'roll triumph and the downfall of Globalsoft as great Queen numbers are belted out: Play the Game, A Kind of Magic, I Want It All, We Are the Champions, Bohemian Rhapsody and, of course, We Will Rock You.

Shane King is a very good Galileo, beautifully partnered by Rachel Wood's sparky, quick-witted Scaramouche. Both are cracking singers, as are Jamie Fillery and Rebecca Birch as Britney Spears and Meatloaf.

There's a wonderfully larger-than-life Killer Queen from Carrie Walsom and Phil Young is nicely oily as her wicked sidekick Khashoggi. The band really rocks and there's some super backing from a very large and busy chorus.

David Henshall

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