Deciding to take on Scientology, the notoriously thin skinned and litigation happy “religion”, as the central subject matter of a comedy rock musical is certainly a brave choice, but one that Australian company George Glass fearlessly runs with, crafting one of the most bizarre and utterly hilarious musical experiences I have ever witnessed.
One of the most bizarre and utterly hilarious musical experiences I have ever witnessed.
We are invited as we enter the Basement of the Rose Theatre by a well dressed group of musicians, to listen to their presentation about the many, many benefits that Scientology brought to their lives, including celibacy, mild alcoholism, and magical powers. If it wasn’t obvious, the show has a riotous and irreverent tone right from the start, pulling no punches in its incredibly sharp satire of the cult-like mentality that has plagued the group since it’s very inception. In amongst the gags and ridiculous characters there is a surprisingly intelligent deconstruction of the nature of religious belief and the doublespeak and misdirection that are utilized by cult organisations to control and belittled their followers.
This is not to say the show isn’t immensely enjoyable; far from it. The entire cast bring a manic and demented energy to their performance, embodying each of their strange and clearly disturbed characters with pointed and vibrant personalities that play off each other so well that the atmosphere in the room was positively electric. This is without saying anything about the music, which is a perfect blend of prog rock and electronica. Creating a psychedelic and surreal atmosphere which made the strange goings-on on stage even more otherworldly. The songs themselves are catchy and well crafted, with witty lyrics and complex melodies ensuring they stay with you long after you leave. Indeed, I must admit I have been listening to the soundtrack online repeatedly since I saw the show.
It is a shame, then, the show isn’t able to end on the same high it rode for the rest of the performance. The conclusion leaves many of the narrative and thematic threads hanging and provides no real resolution to the issues it centred itself around, which is disappointing considering how well put together the rest of the production was.
This, in and of itself, is not able to diminish how wonderful this strange musical is, and if you a want a jaw dropping and completely unbelievable hour of musical comedy, look no further than this show.