The press blurb for Silence! The Musical describes it as being in "gleefully unstoppable bad taste, complete with singing serial killers, songs with unprintable titles and a chorus of tap-dancing lambs". That just about sums up this totally crack-pot, yet brilliantly hysterical parody of the multi Oscar-winning movie, The Silence of the Lambs.  

Not for the faint-hearted or the easily offended, the show - book by Hunter Bell and music and lyrics by Jon and Al Kaplan - occasionally slips in some shock for shock's sake. But then it's all completely over-the-top, romping through the psychological duel between rookie FBI Agent Clarice Starling and killer Hannibal Lecter via clever lyrics and a storyline that stays true to the film; the best thing to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

Christopher Gattelli's fast-paced production is full of terrific performances. Tory Ross does justice to the role of Clarice Starling, over-emphasising the southern lisp to great comedic effect and belting out her numbers as though trying to impress the judges on a TV casting show. Opposite her as Lecter, Miles Western's crazed stare and calm demeanour are simultaneously chilling and hugely funny, especially during the dance duets with Clarice.  

Fabian Hartwell is suitably insane as Buffalo Bill, who kills chubby women to make their skin into dresses, and Tim McArthur does a fine job as Clarice's sexist FBI boss. The dancing lambs are an inspired touch, providing an hilarious Greek chorus, as well as acting as scene shifters and various FBI agents. Best of the night though is Catherine Millsom playing both Buffalo Bill's potential next victim and her mother with spot-on vocals and superb comic timing.

In truth, the female cast members clearly outshine the men, whose singing and speaking voices are all strangely underpowered even in this small venue (Above the Stag is a 56-seater pub theatre tucked just off Victoria Street). Set and props meanwhile are minimal and efficiently devised to make the most of the limited playing area.

Possibly more satisfying following a reviewing of the film, Silence! The Musical may be unlikely to be included in the Royal Variety Show any time soon, but it's totally insane and a real hoot.

- Carole Gordon