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Licensed to Ill

  • Theatre, Musicals
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Licenced to Ill
© Helen MaybanksAdam El Hagar, Daniel Foxsmith, Simon Maeder

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

This ultra-DIY, (ironically un-licensed) Beastie Boys musical is super-fun

This unofficial Beastie Boys musical is possibly the most stupid piece of theatre that you will ever, ever see. THANK CHRIST. In order to pay homage to the brilliantly silly New York trio, the four cast members (three Beasties and an actor playing everyone else from record company executives to Mix Master Mike) have gone all out to channel their goofiness. Before the show even starts, the Beasties are stood in a corner of the graffed-up set actually playing obscure instrumentals live on guitar, bass and drums – while wearing ginormous comedy wigs and beards. 

They attempt to recreate the ‘Fight For Your Right (To Party)’ video by inviting members of the audience onstage for an impromptu frat party. When they need to use a Roland synthesiser in a scene, they instead opt for an Etch A Sketch (‘they cost hundreds!’, quips Mike D in a fourth wall-breaking aside). And it hits the spot perfectly – it’s as gloriously funny, daft and deliberately shambolic as the Beasties themselves.

What, however, isn’t shambolic is the three actors’ performances. Their versions of Beasties’ classics are absolutely phenomenal: word-perfect, breathlessly tight to the beat, delivered while they leap around the stage as though they’ve just inserted their fingers into a plug socket. The musical numbers are actually good enough to enjoy purely as a kind of DIY ‘Stars In Your Eyes’ – particularly given that the showstopper actually features a cast member live DJing the beats. 

Inevitably, the script is fan-boy pleasingly geeky in its detail (the entire thing is presented as the story of Adam Yauch’s directorial alter ego Nathaniel Hornblower). But it’s also such an engagingly daft crowd-pleaser of a story that it works as a brilliantly entertaining standalone piece of theatre – not just very funny in its deliberate ridiculousness, but also genuinely poignant when dealing with Adam Yauch’s untimely death. It’s lo-fi, it’s geeky, it’s daft as you like, but somehow they’ve managed to turn the story of the Beastie Boys into something with appeal beyond their fan base. Its charm is Intergalactic.

Written by
Alexi Duggins


Opening hours:
Nov 30-Dec 3, 5-10, 12-17, 19-24, 8pm, mats Dec 3, 10, 17, 24, 3.30pm
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