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Review: LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, New Wimbledon Theatre, 23 August 2016

It's rare that you see a Jewish florist, a sadistic dentist and a giant singing, flesh-eating plant on the same stage, but in Little Shop of Horrors, that's all part of the show.

Most people know Little Shop Of Horrors from the cult film starring Rick Morainis and Steve Martin as a musical spoof of 1970s B movies. A fantastic new stage production is now on a nationwide tour.

Set on Skid Row in the 1950s, the story follows Seymour, an assistant at a failing florist shop. He is hopelessly in love with colleague Audrey, so when he discovers a new plant he names it after her. Audrey II attracts interest from far and wide, making Seymour an overnight sensation. But it becomes clear the plant has macabre plans of its own, and will only survive when fed on human flesh.

This is not in any way a feminist musical. Audrey is beaten black and blue by her terrible dentist boyfriend, yet jokes about it. She then dreams of a future where she cooks and cleans for Seymour while he gardens. However, it's all so tongue-in-cheek that this is easily overlooked, especially as her awful boyfriend rapidly gets a well-deserved comeuppance.

The show is a riot of colour, noise and fun. Sam Lupton is adorably cute as Seymour, his meek persona contrasting with his clear and strong voice. He's complemented by Stephanie Clift's wonderfully kooky Audrey.

Holding the whole story together is the fantastic trio of 'street singers', played with buckets of strut and sass by Sasha Latoya, Vanessa Fisher and Cassie Clare. Their dance moves and harmonies are sparkling, Latoya being the standout singer and Clare bringing the most attitude.

The standout turn comes from X Factor star Rhydian, who plays Orin, the psychotic dentist. It's clear that he relishes every moment on stage. His vocal acrobatics are both hilarious and impressive, especially the high notes he holds during "Be a Dentist". His role as Orin is too short-lived, but he appears as many different characters throughout the production, often to great comic effect.

Audrey II is an intrinsic part of the show and is voiced to perfection here by Neil Nicholas, whose tone cleverly deepens as the plant grows. The design and puppetry of the plant is fantastic, seen to ghastly effect as it consumes its various prey.

Director Tara Louis Wilkinson exploits every element of fun and quirkiness out of the script, whilst maintaining the dark side of the show. By using every part of the stage, a few moments are lost to the audience at the far sides of the theatre, due to the curve of the seating at the New Wimbledon Theatre.

The design of the show is very well considered and entirely appropriate for the show. David Shields' set is the higgledy-piggledy buildings of the dark back streets of Skid Row; the overall effect is like being inside a slightly seedy comic book.

For those not convinced by a musical based on a giant flesh-eating plant, this show has everything needed to change your mind. Just make sure you don't feed the plant!

Read the reviews for Travis Alabanza’s Sound of the Underground, now playing at the Royal Court Theatre.

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From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre and opera. She is a... (read more about this author)

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