Pitlochry Festival Theatre 3 stars From Rocky Horror to Forbidden Planet, sci-fi B movies and rock and roll nostalgia have been all the rage for now. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's 1982 stage musical even has the parallel universe luxury of being both inspired by one such feature film only to be adapted into another. Based on Roger Corman's 1960 yarn about a blood-sucking plant who eats up a Skid Row flower shop, Little Shop of Horrors isn't the obvious choice to open Pitlochry Festival Theatre's Summer Rep season. Nor, in John Durnin's production, does it fully spark into the sort of big campy life required to make it such a ridiculous pleasure, even as it tackles how greed and money corrupt in a dog eat dog – or rather, plant eats man – world. It's not without its charms, however, from the moment the girl group turned Greek/Brechtian chorus shimmy out of Mushnik's recession-hit store, to the alien plant's devouring of everything in sight. Jo Freer as Ronnette (her partners in song are called Chiffon and Crystal) is especially sassy. The co-relation between poverty and shop-girl Audrey's abusive relationship with slicked-back dentist Orin suggests something beyond cartoon capers, even as Kate Quinnell skirts a thin line between pathos and comic timing as Audrey. As has become a tradition in Pitlochry musicals, all of the cast double up as the house band, with assorted trombones, clarinets, flutes and guitars being wielded to soundtrack each number. While such an approach gives a rough and ready streetband feel to proceedings, it never fully captivates in an intermittently funny show that should have spawned a monster.
The Herald, June 7th 2012 ends