Perhaps you’ve heard of The Midnight Beast? Their blend of comic indie-pop-rap began on a humble Youtube channel and moved to Channel Four just a few years later. This month their latest venture at Pleasance Dome, horror-musical The Midnight Beast: All Killer, will certainly please fans, although I’m not so sure about anyone else.
Those who aren’t waiting for CDs in the foyer afterwards may feel a little short-changed
It’s audition time, and the stakes are as high as you can get when you are writing songs out of a bedroom in your dad’s house. The group are rehearsing for the upcoming village production of - well, it doesn’t matter really. All you need to know is that they’re singing, they’re dancing and one-by-one they’re falling prey to not-so mysterious accidents on and off stage.
With a large screen used for Youtube-esque video sequences and some effectively shadowy shenanigans, this is a group that is playing to their strengths. Songs are conjured up seemingly spontaneously with loop tracks of plastic bottles, and the tried and tested combination of band members Dru (Dru Wakeley), Ash (Ashley Horne) and Stefan (Stefan Abingdon). They come together in their familiar awkwardly charming dynamic with welcome support from additional cast members Bea (played by Jemma Mackenzie Brown) and Summer (Jade Johnson).
The songs are certainly the highlights of the production, such as an enjoyably jazzy section on male bravado and a ridiculously catchy tune about life in the spotlight that had me singing all the way home. However, by comparison the intermediary dialogue felt like a crude means to get from one musical number to the next. It doesn’t dampen the comic value of watching soon-to-be-victims literally limping through their solos, but it does make you question whether the double-figure ticket price is really justifiable.
I have a few unresolved issues with this show: the joke that Dru comes bottom of the talent pile starts to feel overplayed very quickly, whilst at the other extreme there are themes which are begun and never returned to, such as a strong opening number where Stefan is writing his own song about the perils of social media whilst trying not to be distracted by the buzzing phone above his keyboard.
As a parody of your standard musical production, this idea works and works well, but those who aren’t waiting for CDs in the foyer afterwards may feel a little short-changed. We may have eventually unmasked the killer, but there was certainly plenty of filler before we did.