The Toxic Avenger

Theatre, Musicals
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Joyously lurid rock'n'roll comedy musical based on the cult film of the same name

Glowing like a vat of nuclear run-off and spewing sophomoric raunch across the stage, the European premiere of ‘The Toxic Avenger’ is pretty much everything you hoped (or feared) it might be.

Adapted for an off-Broadway stage by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan from Lloyd Kaufman’s classic 1984 horror film, the 2008 musical takes deformed hero Toxie and dips him in a tank of pure ‘Phantom of the Opera’. The resulting mutation is longer on laughs than its splatter-movie original, and with a real beating heart at the centre of its go-green, freak power hide.

Melvin Ferd the Third is the nerd who finds himself transformed into a gloopy, hunky superhero after he takes a bath in a barrel of glowing ooze. It gives him the guts to take on Tromaville’s dastardly, solution-happy Mayor, and the (ahem) tackle to tackle man-eating, blind librarian Sarah. From there to absurdity, it’s a classic love story painted in radioactive neons, with a booming score that swipes snatches of gospel and country to augment its power-ballad base.

Aria Entertainment meld its typically sky-high production values with the team behind last year’s stunning ‘Shock Treatment’ stage premiere, giving director Benji Sperring and musical director Alex Beetschen a spectacular playground of a production to run riot in. Design from Mike Lees is a pure B-movie joy, capturing the joyously shaky production values of Toxie creators Troma Inc, and the tiny cast of five have a visible blast filling out the bulging population of Tromaville, New Jersey.

Despite the pleasingly right-on message, there are sticky points, with a few too many gags reliant on the ‘hilarious’ potential of a blind character bumping into things, yucks that feel uncomfortably exposed outside of the more pointedly extreme universe of Kaufman’s films. But this is a show with its mutant heart in the right place, a nuclear meltdown of arse-kicking choruses and eco-savvy bodily dismemberment.

This review is from 2016. 'The Toxic Avenger' will have a run at the Arts Theatre in Autumn 2017.

By: Stewart Pringle

Posted:

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Users say (6)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|6
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tastemaker

This show is very tongue in cheek that I took with a pinch of salt. Gag after gag is based on current affairs, the blind, the old, the unpopular etc. To be honest I found the jokes a bit much, it did make me chuckle but not as much as the woman in front of me who guffawed at every pun. There were definite nods and references to other musicals such as Urinetown (which grated on me), Phantom of the Opera and several Book of Mormon type jokes. The small cast of 5 excellently multi role at break neck speed to fulfill all the characters in New Jersey, hats off to them. Their voices are powerhouses, I particularly liked the song 'My Big French Boyfriend'. I left with a smile on my face and it was a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but won't leave a lasting impression on me.


OMG how much did I love this show??!! It was fabulous!! Great rock sound track thanks to Dave Bryan from Bon Jovi (also responsible for Memphis), witty lyrics, fantastic characters played by only 5 of the most comically gifted performers on the London stage & a great cheesy B movie plot. It's the ultimate feel good night out. I was laughing out loud & was thoroughly entertained from the opening bars. It's like a Rocky Horror/Rock of Ages/Spider-Man love child. It perfectly fits the Southwark Playhouse's auditorium. See it while you can...

tastemaker

Feel good rock n' roll and a fabulous performance from every case member updates the classic hero saves girl with a clever and witty and absolutely hilarious script.


Songs will have you guffawing, the characters will make you smile and poke fun at the status quo with tunes like 'Big French Boyfriend' and 'Evil is Hot'.


Not one cast member let's the script or the energy down, every song and scene is meant with a roaring cheer from the audience!


This musical won't let you down and is really a unique and fun thing to go see. If you like your anti-hero bad but sweet, your villains sexy, your damsel down to earth, your ensemble in drag then watch this awesome awesome musical!


Oh , and there was a standing ovation - enough said really!

Tastemaker

 A toxic mutant, a horny blind librarian, a white guy, a black guy, a nun and a masochistic mayor - ideal subjects for musical theatre! Another camp classic from off-Broadway is resurrected at the fearless Southwark Playhouse and, once again, it doesn't disappoint.


Try and sit facing the stage for the best view, although the theatre is intimate enough that anyone is at risk of being groped at any moment by the relentlessly enthusiastic cast.

Tastemaker

Southwark Playhouse delivers once again. Following up with the major success of last year's Bat Boy (one of my favourite musicals of all time) comes The Toxic Avenger, a musical based off a B-movie with songs written by U2's keyboardist. The musical is a weird one - ugly (I beg to differ on this) nerd falls into a toxic vat after falling for a blind librarian, because he takes the fall for wanting to fell evil mayor, whose environmentally unfriendly practices causes calamity to befall the town of Tromaville, New Jersey. He becomes a mutant with superpowers and saves the town! And gets the girl! 


I had a lot of fun watching this musical, and the songs come really fast and with lots of laughs in between. This is a very strong cast, with a shoutout in particular to the actress who plays the evil mayor/mother, whose vocal prowess soars in her songs (look out for her 'duet' at the end of the first act titled Bitch/Slut/Liar/Whore). It's a very tightly written script, although the ending is a little too simple for my liking. But then again, it's a B-movie plot, so I'm not sure what I was expecting. Well done to Southwark Playhouse for bringing this to London, and may its audiences love it too. I found myself humming some of the tunes to myself long after I exited the theatre, and I love kitsch things in general, so really, this was right up my alley - HIGH QUALITY KITSCH FOR ALL THE FAMILY.


Protip: Try not to get seats on the sides, as your vision will be slightly obscured at times, particularly of action that happens on the second level of the stage. Also, grab yourself some themed cocktails from the bar!

Tastemaker

Just thrilled! 

This is the best off-West End musical you can see at the moment in London. 

The production is even much higher than many West End musicals.


European premiere for the rock ‘n’ roll musical comedy, based on the same title's1984 cult classic film.

The citizens of Tromaville just found their hero to clean the toxic waste over their city & fight against the corrupted Mayor.

All five actors are just amazing & truly talented; Mark Anderson, Hannah Grover, Lizzii Hills, Marc Pickering, Ashley Samuels. 

Southwark Playhouse theater always have interesting productions, making it one of my favorite off West End theater, but this musical is excellent in every aspect.


Quick-clever playscript, nice direction, simple but in point set design, amazing actors, great songs! 

Prepare to laugh; and I mean a lot of laugh!