Wellington College make their return to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year with the wacky jukebox musical Return to the Forbidden Planet. This musical, which attempts to be a combination of Star Trek and Shakespeare's The Tempest, sees its characters avoiding collisions, fighting off space snakes and battling with the even more tricky situation of its on board relationships.
A lot of what's wrong with this performance is no fault of its young and enthusiastic cast.
The narrative follows Captain Tempest and his crew as they navigate space and spend a tumultuous 60 mins shooting, being shot at, or breaking into song.
A lot of what's wrong with this performance is no fault of its young and enthusiastic cast. The plot is too silly for adults but the Shakespearian language is too advanced for children. Therefore it's left in somewhat of a “no man’s land” with regards to who it's really aimed at. Indeed many of the audience seem more than a little lost. I also couldn't help but feel that the rock-and-roll song choices were awkwardly shoe-horned into place. They don't entirely fit but "let's just stick them in and hope nobody notices" seems to be the reasoning. I also felt the director had let the cast down a little with obvious and awkward directorial decisions, leaving them with little, if nothing, to do at some points and dragging out other moments completely unnecessarily.
Couple these points with mic levels that need a lot of attention, a rather rusty sounding live band and a pair of entirely superfluous roller skates and you're almost there.
I may not have been blown away by the talent of this school-age ensemble but I do have to be fair to them. A lot more attention could have been spent polishing their performances and a lot less on using screens or incorporating a live band that detracted rather than added to the show. I feel that the cast have been somewhat let down by choices out of their control and with the young age of the performers, that's a real shame.