Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

We Will Rock You

As I mentioned briefly earlier in the week, on Friday we went to see We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre in London. For those unaware, it’s a a so-called ‘jukebox musical‘, where the script is written around pre-existing songs. All the songs are by Queen, hence the title.

It opened in London in 2002, and it still going strong. When we went it was nearly a sell-out, although it was a Friday night, the beginning of the half term holiday for some schools, and Valentines Day, so that’s not so surprising.

The musical is set in a dystopian future, where one corporation, GlobalSoft, rules the world, and all original music is banned. Except one person, Galileo, who keeps hearing lyrics from music from the twentieth century in his head, but doesn’t know why. He teams up with a young woman, who he calls ‘Scaramouche’, and they flee to the sewers where the Bohemians live, all the while being pursued by GlobalSoft and its leader, the Killer Queen.

That’s the general synopsis of the plot, whilst trying to avoid spoilers. The story is rather contrived, and some of the links with the songs feel a little forced. The ending is also a bit rushed in my opinion, leaving several plot holes unclosed. And it’s very similar to the plot of The Matrix, in several ways, which is something that its writer, Ben Elton, has admitted.

Thankfully, what it lacks in plot, it makes up for in looks. Some of the lighting and effects are brilliant, and visually it is quite spectacular. Plus, you’ll probably know most of the songs already, even if sometimes the words are changed to fit the plot.

Furthermore, there have been some minor changes to the musical over the years to keep it topical. The Bohemians are all named after current pop acts, some of which were not around in 2002, so these have been changed. And references to Facebook and Twitter have been introduced as neither existed 12 years ago. What hasn’t changed is some of the computer graphics, shown on the backdrops, which arguably looked dated even in 2002. I’m sure your average computer animation student could do something better in an afternoon nowadays.

Should you go and see it? If you can get some of the cheaper tickets like we did – £30 each, for the back of the stalls but still with a good view – then sure, go for it. But there are better musicals out there in the West End – Wicked is amazing, and I’ve head good things about Book of Mormon, although tickets are still like gold dust for that. Of course, it also depends how much you like Queen’s music.

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