Theatre Review: Toxic Avenger The Musical

A musical comedy based on the Lloyd Kaufman film The Toxic Avenger which is making its West End debut in 2017

Melvin Ferd the Third is an aspiring earth scientist who decides to take on the Mayor of Tromaville who has been dumping toxic waste which has been polluting the town. But when the mayor hears of his plans to stop her, Melvin is thrown into a vat of toxic waste. Transformed into a mutant superhero, Toxie. He has the ability to take on the mayor and with the love of his blind girlfriend Sarah, finally mop up the town of Tromaville.

It has been over a year since the previous production of The Toxic Avenger The Musical in London, but the opening night for the West End debut last night proved that it was worth the wait. Composed by Memphis writer Joe DiPietro and Bon Jovi keyboard/vocalist David Bryan, the musical encompasses the tongue in cheek element of Lloyd Kaufmans; original film The Toxic Avenger (1984), whilst adding their own unique take on the story. Infusing a classic 80’s rock sound with sharp comedic narrative it’s visually bought to life by the cast.

The songs perfectly encapsulate the moment which is often described in great detail to elaborate what is currently happening on stage. Songs such as “My Big French Boyfriend” and “Thank God She’s Blind” bringing a satirical description and reasoning to what’s happening.

Few musicals can continue a constant comedic rhythm for over two hours, but I couldn’t stop laughing throughout at the constant comical moments.  Not only do the cast have amazing voices but their comic timing is synchronised and driven by their eccentric performances which leaves the audience breathless. There may only be five actors in the play, but constant character and costume changes make it look like a cast of about fifty actors. You can really see the hard preparation which has been put in to the show by the cast – the way they work perfectly off each other with slick execution.

The director of the original London production Benji Sprerring does a brilliant job transferring the show to the West End. Making the most of a bigger production, the show has continued to evolve working with the cast to incorporate further comedy into the performance.

Mark Anderson is the only cast member returning from the original production, which is not really a surprise as it is difficult to see anyone playing the role any better. His softened tone when he sings “You Tore My Heart Out” is delivered with an emotional weight, even though the lyrics offer a few laughs along the way.

Emma Salvo excels with her comical timing as Toxie’s blind girlfriend Sarah, which is equally matched by her amazingly powerful voice. This comes across brilliantly in cohesion with Mark Anderson for the song “Hot Toxic Love”.

Natalie Hope is brilliant as both the Mayor and Toxie’s mother and her rendition of “Bitch/Slut/Liar/Whore” where she argues with herself is one of the many comical highlights of the show. It’s a difficult number but she performs it perfectly.

Oscar Conlon-Morrey as the White Dude and Ché Francis as the Black Dude work brilliantly off each other’s energy. They really steal the show as they have a real freedom to let loose with the many roles which they undertake throughout, especially with constant quick costume changes.

If you were to criticise anything in the show, some of the jokes may not work, but with so much going onstage, you will always find yourself laughing at something moments later.

The Toxic Avenger The Musical is a refreshing comical satire which is welcomed with open arms to the West End. The comedy delivered on point at such a ferocious pace, is two hours of pure escapism for the audience. It may only be a short run until 3rd December but I am sure it will be back again in the near future. With the incredible cast currently performing, you should make sure you get your tickets while you can and join in the fun in saving New Jersey.

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