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We Will Rock You

  • Theatre, West End
We Will Rock You, London Coliseum, 2023
Photo: Manuel HarlanBen Elton (Rebel Leader)

Time Out says

Ben Elton’s Queen musical is still dreadful

What happens when you throw Queen, AI, and Brenda Edwards from ‘Loose Women’ together? Answer: a limited 12-week return of Ben Elton’s defiantly uncool ‘We Will Rock You’, this time starring Elton himself. He opens the show referencing the ‘staggeringly awful’ reviews of the last run, which closed nine years ago at the Dominion Theatre. So, does the fact the show is happy to own its original critical savaging mean Elton has gone back to the drawing board and improved it? No it does not. At all.

Tapping into very real, current hysteria about AI ending the human race, the story is set in a dystopian ‘Gaga Land’ on ‘iPlanet’, where music is banned by an evil Queen and people waste away as vegetables, living life through their phones. The only hope is the old legend of ‘We Will Rock You’ (yes, really) and a grubby group of rock ‘n’ roll bohemians in a scrapyard. Good and evil play out with pantomime-esque comicality, except it’s not funny: just painful. 

The stage design is stunning, with whirring lines of code and a bright, hyper-futuristic mall on huge screens. But no amount of pretty backgrounds can save poor writing. There’s a loose storyline awkwardly sculpted around Queen songs (‘What more could you possibly want?’ ‘I want to break free’), scattered with distasteful jokes (‘you’ll awake the sleeping beast’) and dated pop culture references (‘I like big butts…’ and ‘who let the dogs out’) that very quickly become intolerable. 

The highlights, of course, are the songs, yet the delivery largely feels unpolished and lacking in any sort of stage presence (bar Elton’s uncle-at-a-wedding-karaoke solo). ‘We Will Rock You’ is underwhelming, with the audience reluctantly clapping along like circus animals forced to perform. You don’t even leave feeling particularly uplifted by the stupidity of it all, just embarrassed for the cast. If you’re a massive Queen fan, you might just survive through the songs alone, but good luck: you’ll need to be a few drinks deep.

Chiara Wilkinson
Written by
Chiara Wilkinson


£25-£160. Runs 2hrs 45mins. Booking to Oct 26
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