Following in the sell-out and critically acclaimed footsteps of their last production, Spring Awakening, James Baker and the Assembled Junk team had a lot of hype to live up to. I, along with many others, was blown away by their first show and so I am pleased to report that their new offering, Little Shop of Horrors, delivers another splendid dose of musical fringe theatre.
Little Shop of Horrors is a comedy/horror rock musical which tells the story of Seymour, a hopeless skid row florist assistant, who discovers an exotic plant that has a strange craving for fresh blood and flesh. Seymour names the plant Audrey II, he tends to the peculiar plant - feeding it his own blood enabling the plant to grow larger - turning it into a volatile and controlling soul-singing carnivore.
The musical is based on the low budget 1960's film and the underlying themes are still really relevant over 50 years later. The musical is overflowing with ideas of fortune and greed and watching Seymour's story we can't help but draw parallels with our society now and the way that shows like X-Factor and the media glamorise the idea of instant fame and overnight success.
James Baker's direction is once again a marvel - he fully utilises the attic space of the iconic Salford pub - using a faux brick wall and gauze panels to shield a magnificent four piece live band and the seating positioned on each side of the stage really allows the audience to feel immersed in the action from beginning to end.
The chorus girl trio played by Francesca Swarbrick, Christina Meehan and Paida Noel are a delight and inject the show with comedy and energy throughout - their vocal harmonies are a real treat. Duncan Burt gives a confident and charismatic performance as geeky bumbag/bow-tie wearing Seymour - he has tremendous presence when he is on stage; his duet "Suddenly Seymour" with Audrey (Laura Harrison) is measured and heartfelt.
This production is showing right up to the Christmas period and offers up a pleasing alternative to the usual festive fare. Running at just 2 hours long (including a 20 minute interval), Little Shop of Horrors is ideal for families with older children. And if you're anything like me, you will be singing "Little Shop, Little Shop of Horrors" all the way home after.