As decades go, the 1980s is pretty iconic. If you were lucky enough to live through it then you probably have nostalgia for the outrageous hairstyles and equally outrageous fashion (my Mum likes to reminisce about an electric blue suit), and, on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wondering what on earth has happened to the music industry? If like me, you missed out on this iconic time period then you probably find yourself wishing that ‘80s pop ballads would make a come-back (although I’m happy to leave the perm in the past). Either way, with Eugenius comes some great news- the ‘80s pop ballad is making a long overdue comeback in the form of a musical about a superhero-loving geek. With its catchy ‘80s style songs and its brilliant ‘80s jokes, this musical has the potential, with further development (as is the aim of The Other Palace) to become a classic.
Eugenius is the story of a self-confessed geek, Eugene (Liam Forde) who wants to write superhero comics and films about his two fictional heroes – Tough Man and Super-Hot Lady. Eugene has all the usual obstacles in his way- a dead mother and a father who doesn’t understand him, several school bullies and an unfair Hollywood producer. On the flip side, he also has his loyal sidekicks, his fellow geeks- one of whom is in love with him and too afraid to tell him. There’s nothing remotely new or different about this story, but it is strangely comforting all the same and, despite being stereotypical to the last, the characters are likeable and the story doesn’t drag.
There’s some excellent acting throughout the show – Liam Forde makes us fall in love with his character Eugene whilst Ian Hughes gets plenty of laughs as the shambolic villain, Evil Lord Hector. There’s also a voiceover from Star Wars actor Mark Hamill as robot Kevin, and with Warwick Davis as the producer, it is unsurprising that there are many Star Wars references throughout (I picked up on at least 4 and I haven’t even seen Star Wars). There
were many more references to the ‘80s which I did understand, however, and the script is clever enough to not overuse these.
Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins have written some brilliantly catchy pastiches of ‘80s pop classics and I left humming the title song which is still, slightly irritatingly, still in my head two days later.
I think the overall point though is that everybody loves an underdog so when the underdog inevitably wins through it makes us happy. The characters are all stereotypes, the story is nothing new and there’s never any doubt about the ending, but Eugenius still provides a fun night out and you are guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face.
Review by Emily Diver
Eugenius! boasts a ton of totally original songs that you’ll go nuts for even on first hearing – Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins have written a show full of instantly addictive hits – and they’ll be buzzing in your brain for the rest of the year.
Plus there’s a sassy script that’ll make you laugh, gasp, sing, cry, and shout ‘Go Eugenius!’ along with everyone else. This is a show where geeks rule, dreams do come true, and everyone finds the superhero inside themselves – now they know where to look.
EUGENIUS! THE MUSICAL – Monday 22 January – Saturday 3 March 2018
THE OTHER PALACE
12 Palace Street, Westminster, London, SW1E 5JA