Hillbilly hilarity can prove difficult to digest at the best of times, but this musical feast, based on the cult film by South Park creator Trey Parker, offers a light-hearted approach to the true story of Alfred Packer without creating a Wild West Washout.
Packer, the only American ever convicted of cannibalism, finds himself on Death Row, and recounts his tales of woe to besotted journalist Polly Pry in his attempt to avoid injustice. He and his mining buddies have set out to Colorado in search of gold, when hunger strikes, and the lack of readily available Shredded Wheat forces the men to turn on each other, with Packer being the unfortunate victim left behind to take the blame after acting in self-defence.
The play benefits most from having a well-oiled cast, who create a real sense of camaraderie in their quest for riches. Set on a minimalistic stage, the enthusiasm and execution put into crude songs such as Hang the B***ard and Lets Build a Snowman make the show deliciously crass. What it lacks in an adequate musical score is more than made up for by the sheer fun and mimicry that the script is littered with.
Dont be put off by its devouring title, either. For the musical steers clear of blood and guts in favour of a cartoon-style caper that never takes itself seriously. While Packer as a character is neither charming nor gut-wrenching, the miners as a team are well supported by a weird and wonderful cast including a Cyclops, two evil trappers and a disloyal horse called Lianne. Cannibal even creates a new word shpadoinkle, and it sure is a shpadoinkle day when Polly Pry gets Packer off the hook at the moment of execution.
One note of caution: this show should come with a health warning. If youre a feminist, music lover or find South Park insulting, it will prove totally unappetising. But Cannibal is a show you can really get your teeth into. Just dont come on an empty stomach