REVIEW: Live Live Cinema @ Sage Gateshead (23.6.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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I should admit something. I didn’t realise there are two Little Shop of Horrors movies and that this edition of Live Live Cinema featured the older version, filmed in 1960, not the 1986 Rick Moranis one. Interestingly, though, it does feature a cameo appearance from a young looking Jack Nicholson as the masochistic dental patient Wilbur Force…

On to less embarrassing matters… It’s not often I am bowled over by something to such an extent that I feel like running home and writing about it, but this was just too stupendously good. The stage was set up with bright and colourful balloons, an array of instruments, things hanging from the ceiling on bits of string, umbrellas, suitcases, buckets and even a bowl of noodles cooking away at the front, not forgetting the giant screen at the rear of the stage. My intrigue was already piqued at the most unusual stage set-up I think I’ve ever seen.

When the four stars – there is no other way to describe them – appeared on stage they were dressed in equally colourful garb and immediately struck up with some title music. Hayley Sproull began on keys, Byron Coll, who I recognised from the brilliant TV show Top of the Lake, on guitar, Barnie Duncan on bass and star of platinum-selling band Kora, Laughton Kora on drums (although, they swapped instruments as frequently as they swapped voices).

It is incredibly difficult to describe what transpired because so much was happening onstage. Each performer was not only voicing the characters in very believable accents, but also acting the roles with facial expressions and physical movements, while simultaneously remembering to ding the bell when the door opened onscreen (which required jumping up), or create the sound of footsteps across the shop floor. Even the sound of the very odd customer Burson Fouch eating flowers was recreated via the gift of Kellogg’s cornflakes.

“This troupe of New Zealanders have created one of the most interesting and entertaining pieces of theatre I have ever seen”

Their attention to detail was staggering, and the array of props equally so. Their use was often very humorous; a firm slap across the male nipple area representing a handshake was a particular favourite (it was very convincing). It was an interesting touch to make Audrey Jnr, the man-eating plant, Japanese (with some wonderful cries of “feedo me Seymour-san!”).

The group weren’t helping each other though and were constantly trying to put each other off or hiding the guitar, which just added to the entertainment. They even involved the audience at certain points, making it a 360 degree show.

While the lip-syncing was absolutely spot on, they also took the opportunity to throw in some new dialogue that matched visually but was different to the original script. Seymour’s Mum dancing a jig to Beyoncé’s Single Ladies and the comment that “you like to poo in your hands and clap” getting some of the biggest laughs from the enthralled audience.

This troupe of New Zealanders have created one of the most interesting and entertaining pieces of theatre I have ever seen. I was left absolutely gobsmacked at the sheer audacity of what they attempted and ultimately pulled off.

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