Review - We Will Rock You, The Alhambra Theatre.

Opening with an extravagant series of scene-setting subtitles, Ben Elton’s jukebox musical whisks the audience into a not-so-distant dystopia where shows like the X-Factor have contributed to the death of rock music and “iPlanet” domination for the “Globalsoft Corporation”. In this bleak setting the few underground rebel “Bohemians” hope the “Bohemian Rhapsody Myth”, legendary buried “axe” and the prophesised “Dreamer” will lead them to salvation and the return to musical freedom.

Queen’s songs are cleverly used to tell the story of the revolution against Globalsoft without ever feeling shoe-horned. A whole ensemble Radio Ga Ga accompanies the introduction to Gaga University where iPlanet’s citizens are made into robotic replicas of one another. Here, we meet our protagonists, Galileo Figaro and Scaramouche, who both refuse to conform and, as a result, are treated as freakish outsiders.

As Galileo, Ian McIntosh has a phenomenal voice, belting out his first solo I Want to Break Free in a fitting tribute to Freddie Mercury. Elena Skye rivals this performance with Somebody to Love, playing his female counterpart and fellow misfit, Scaramouche. Exceptionally strong performances do not stop here with unanimously powerhouse all cast vocals, impressive surprise numbers and particularly noteworthy performances from Jenny O’Learly playing the show’s villain, Killer Queen.

Elton’s script is littered with humorous musical allusions both to classic and contemporary artists and lyrics. From the so-called “holy texts” apparently including the words “fastest milkman in the west” to mystical questions like “Who let the dogs out?” running through Galileo’s head and sly references to Lizzo’s “feeling good as hell”, Elton uses every available opportunity to cheekily utilise pop culture. The rebels themselves have all named themselves after musical “legends” they found mention of in surviving tattered posters or magazine pages, such as “Britney Spears”. Michael McKell as “Buddy” is undoubtedly the funniest Bohemian, citing musical relics in preposterously misinformed futuristic pronunciations, such as “vid-eo tap-e”.

The set changes slickly combine futuristic electronic projections with imposing wheel-on industrial set-pieces. Almost so high-energy it’s exhausting to watch, We Will Rock You, both moves and amuses with its positive body message, legendary soundtrack and faultless whole ensemble performances, truly deserving of the standing-ovation the show garnered.

Leo Owen