Fanatical at Playground Theatre

Fanatical at Playground Theatre

Fanatical is a brand new musical with custom written music based at a Science Fiction Convention built around a (fictional) sci-fi tv series. As somebody quite happy to watch Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate and many more my thoughts ahead of seeing the show had me thinking of all the sci-fi genre musicals I could think of. Even with the help of a well known search engine the list of shows I had actually heard of was not massive. The Truth about this show though is that it is more sociological than sci-fi so while yes there is a base around this fictional show and multiple references to sci-fi franchises people might be well aware of you do not need to be a “treckie” to enjoy the show.

Fanatical photoThis production of Fanatical is most definitely a feel good, cheesy, comedy, partly romantic musical with custom songs that develop the story rather than just being shoehorned in. If you expect this to be a serious show then the script could easily be seen as a bit thin, lacking and some of the plot twists too predictable however if you expect a light hearted laugh (and there was plenty of laughing from the audience) and a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously the show makes a lot more sense. The show manages to cover social difficulties and also poke a little fun at the convention world. They do this in a way that allows everybody to have a laugh without offending either real life equivalent fans or people suffering from the social awkwardness shown in some of the characters.

The creators have assembled a talented cast for the show including the two recognisable faces of Stephen Frost as Scott Furnish and Sophie Powles as Andra, along with other faces that might seem familiar (although you are not sure where from until you read the bios in the programme). As a team of 8 they have clearly bonded into a single unit that works brilliantly together. While some of the characters have much more of the script and singing than others you really do get a chance to know every character in the show. The intimacy you get with the cast is partly what makes the show and is helped massively being in the Playground Theatre, I think the show suits this style of venue and could lose some of its connectivity to the audience if it moves into bigger proscenium venues.

Sometimes while trying to review a show it is nice to hear views of somebody else watching the show. I took my 15 year old son with me to watch this one, his personality can be described as being a bit like Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory and while some of his tv sci-fi knowledge is limited he is a gamer and loves his blogs and YouTube. On the journey home I asked him what he thought about the show, his reply was, “It wasn’t what i had expected, it was much better and funnier, and I picked up on most of the references.” I think is a great way of summing the show up, go in with the frame of mind to enjoy it and the chances are you will.

Review by Andrew Parker

Fanatical runs at the Playground Theatre until 8th December.

If you like this review you may also like my reviews of Eugenius, Tap Dogs and A Very Very Very Dark Matter.

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