Part rock musical, part gameshow, part theatre of the absurd and all bonkers fun, The Quentin Dentin Show certainly stands in a category of its own.
Young couple Nat and Keith (Shauna Riley and Jamie Tibke) are on a downward spiral. Keith has writer’s block, and Nat, working flat out as a pharmacist, no longer finds his pasta dishes appealing. Things look bleak, until one day a mysterious golden microphone appears. A crackle of static and …POOF! Quentin Dentin materialises, all lacquered hair and gleaming teeth, promising to make them happy. After all, “nobody likes you when you’re not happy”.
And all they have to do is sign this tiny little contract. Oh, and swallow this tiny little pill. But after that they’ll be really, really happy. Promise. Cross my heart and hope to die.
Accompanied by a live three-piece band and robotic backing dancers, all sinisterly garbed in Droog-esque white jumpsuits, Quentin shows the couple, through the medium of song, a series of alternate realities. They could be rock-stars, astronauts…or fish! The songs are all original, energetic and slickly choreographed, and if we were slightly deafened, sitting next to the band, at least all of the lyrics were clear. This is important, as the lyrics are the really clever part. Quentin may be the prince of psychobabble but a lot of the time he comes dangerously close to the truth, probing our insecurities and stripping bare the superficial mores of our generation. Take Your Medicine is particularly uncomfortable, highlighting as it does society’s obsession with fixing people.
The set and props are endearingly scrappy – a soul-extracting machine is ingeniously constructed from a coat rack and a pair of colanders – but this ramshackle appearance belies the professionalism of the production. According to the programme it has been “significantly reworked” since its original Fringe outing; not having seen it in its previous incarnation I don’t know what has been changed, but it certainly seems to have worked.
Lighting, music and stagecraft are all carefully designed and skilfully executed, and the performances are convincing.
Everyone plays their part with brio, but the star, of course, is Luke Lane as Quentin himself. Like the demented lovechild of John Barrowman and Frank-N- Furter, he beguiles, menaces and befuddles the hapless couple until they no longer know which way is up. Fizzing with energy and a slightly inhuman, evangelical singlemindedness, he beams, shrieks, pouts, flounces and seduces his way in their (and our) hearts. Writer Henry Carpenter, who originally played the role, must be delighted that his spawn is in such good hands.
If there is one criticism to be made, it is that the show doesn’t have enough flesh on its bones. If it were a little longer we could delve into Keith and Nat’s neuroses and psychoses more deeply, the character development would pack more of a punch and Quentin’s interference would feel even more sinister. There is potential for this to be a full-length show, and hopefully we’ll get to see this at some point in the future.
Wilfully eccentric it may be, but there is more to The Quentin Dentin Show than meets the eye.
Review by Genni Trickett
The cult hit Edinburgh Fringe rock musical is reborn in London! This new, original musical by Henry Carpenter set tongues a-wagging at the Edinburgh Fringe 2015, and now runs Above the Arts Theatre this May.
Keith and Nat’s relationship needs intensive care. So when they accidentally summon the supernatural therapist Quentin Dentin out of the radio, it seems like a dream come true. But the charming Mr Dentin’s mission of happiness has an altogether darker purpose… also, he just won’t stop singing.
The Quentin Dentin Show
Book, Music and Lyrics Henry Carpenter
Producer Hannah Elsy Productions
Supported by Rich Mix
Director/Choreographer Caldonia Walton
Lighting Designer Lara Davidson
Associate Lighting Designer Jamie Ryan
Cast Luke Lane (Quentin Dentin), Shauna Riley (Nat), Jamie Tibke (Keith), Felix Denton (Friend 1), Lydia Costello (Friend 2)
May 16th 2016 – May 28th 2016
Monday – Saturday, 10pm
Running Time 70 mins
Above the Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JB
Ticket Price £12/£10 (concessions)/£8 (previews)
Box Office Arts Theatre (artstheatrewestend.co.uk)