Scooby Doo has been immortalised in cartoon form and recently in two live action movies, so the transition to stage is only to be expected. Judging by the faces on the younger members of the audience on the night I went, seeing the animated stars in the flesh is quite a thrill.
Sticking closely to the cartoon series in every way, a recreation of the opening credits whets the appetite for a faithful adaptation with no real surprises. Scooby (Rowan Talbot), Shaggy (Richard Lynson), Velma (Clare Corbett), Daphne (Zoe Dawson) and Fred (Ryan McCluskey) investigate strange goings on the set of a scary movie. A supernatural ghost is causing havoc at the old Clawhammer studios and it's up to them to save the day.
There is much here to entertain the kids with Talbot stealing the show as Scooby. All he has to do is say the immortal line "Raggy" to his best pal and the audience are won over. The cast do far more than impersonations; their energy and enthusiasm is infectious.
Rob Bissinger's bright and breezy set design, serves as a good platform for the dream machine to glide over in search of the villain. But the many objects wheeled on and off the stage manually slow the pace of the action.
The first act whizzes by on nostalgia and Jim Millan's fast paced direction. Pete Cox's excellent sound effects bring memories of the cartoon original flooding back. Add some wonderful set pieces including Shaggy jumping into Scooby's arms and a great scene involving cartoon eyes in a pitch black atmosphere, and it's so far, so "Scooby Dooby Doo." Pantomime style audience participation will also stop your little ones from throwing their Scooby Snacks in boredom.
It's unfortunate then that by the time second act commences, the piece runs out of steam. Many of the sight gags are simply repeated. By the time the villain is unmasked, you realise why the cartoons were so short.
Six-year-old Laura who sat next to me said "I want to see it again" as she left the theatre. No surprise as the show does exactly what it says on the tin; entertains kids throughout. For adults though this is a brash, loud, base-line humour filled "cash cow". But at least it isn't the 'dog' of a show you expected it to be.
- Glenn Meads (reviewed at the Lowry, Salford)