Tom and Bunny Save the World is a folk musical. A folk musical, but with zombies. Think Once and Shaun of the Dead. We follow, or rather, chase after, the tough and independent Bunny as she, the anxious, wimpy Tom and their gaggle of eccentric friends try to travel up north from London to lovely Yorkshire in the middle of a zombie apocolypse.
An entertaining hour with the stamp of a classic Fringe musical
The zombie apocolypse craze seems to have been and gone, but Fat Rascal Theatre have brought the genre back from the dead to pull together what is a crazed sprint through musical theatre and horror film parodies. It had the feeling of a musical, a comic book and a film all at once, and the amount of theatrical and cinematic references it crammed in would take quite some untangling. The cast showed astronomical levels of energy and the show went from naught to sixty practically in the first four bars of music.
However, despite the serious vocal skill of the entire cast, the book as a whole wasn't as strong as I'd hoped, and most of the songs blended in to one another. It was refreshing, however, to see that not much was made of the several queer characters and the independent female leads. Rather than stop and make a point of diversity and challenges to stereotypes, or have their characters revolve around their sexuality or gender to make said point, it was all just presented as a 'like it or leave it' fact of the show. Which, overall, was reflected in the production as a whole.
Tom and Bunny... was littered with genuinely funny moments and witty observations about class in Britain, regional stereotypes, politics and feminism. The blocking was comedic and the delivery was in most places spot on. However, the show stopped dead in its tracks right when it started to get too much set up meant there was no time left to actually see this mad group of characters save the world. You're left to presume they did. Despite the high production quality, the musical seemed to just explore the idea of a zombie apocolypse musical and it was the structure, rather than the material that severely let the piece down. But, there's only so much you can do in sixty minutes.
Some younger members of the audience seemed to be struggling with the frequent adult language and occasional gore and maybe the age recommendations weren't quite high enough for what was a fairly adult show.
Chaotic, comedic but structurally unsatisfying, Tom and Bunny Save the World boasts a fantastic cast and is an entertaining hour with the stamp of a classic Fringe musical.