Last night, I went to the New Theatre in Cardiff and saw Return to the Forbidden Planet with my parents. Between us we have seen the musical 11 times! This was my third viewing and I was so excited to see it again! My Dad had seen the original on-stage version in Liverpool in the 80’s so we were very excited to see the 25th anniversary tour!
If you haven’t hears of it, Return to the Forbidden Planet is ‘Shakespeare’s lost Rock and Roll Musical’. It loosely follows the plot of The Tempest’, and the script is made up of Shakespeare quotes (with all other dialogue in the style of Shakespeare) punctuated by Rock and Roll songs (such as ‘Wipe Out’ and ‘Good Vibrations’).
This show is perfect for me! It’s totally ridiculous, nerdy, and hilarious! The songs are great, the plot zips along, and I love all of the sci-fi references!
The cast of this production was small (only 10) and they were also the band. The set was designed in such a way that the instruments were part of the ship, and hung off the walls so that one second the cast were the crew, and the next they were the band. The Captain played bass, Miranda played a trumpet solo and Cookie had the famous guitar solo in ‘She’s not there’ (including playing with his teeth!). You could also tell that the cast were having an amazing time, which in turn made us have a great time too. The excitement and fun was completely infectious.
The Newscaster in this production was Brian May, obviously having a great time opening and closing each half. The costumes were all reminiscent of the film ‘The Forbidden Planet’, the Captain even had a pipe! We all got to ‘Reverse Polarity’ in order to save the ship and the attack of the ‘monster’ at the end of the first half was wonderfully cheesy as well!
This show stands up to watching over and over again. Each production I’ve seen has done something differently (Ariel the robot roller-skates, the costumes are reminiscent to Star Trek: Next Generation as well as the Captain being Bald and Derek the Weather is narrator…) so there is always something new to look forward to.
Return to the Forbidden Planet is one of the few shows that I’d make a special effort to see. You will be guaranteed a good night and will leave with a smile on your face! If you get the chance to see it, then go! This particular production is in Cardiff for the rest of this week, and then it moves onto Blackpool and Manchester. I cannot recommend it enough. And to end with the final words of the cast:
‘Live long and Prospero…’