Boulevard Theatre, London W1
Opened 13 February, 1992

After Return To The Forbidden Planet proceeds a rock'n'roll version of Macbeth from the heat-oppressèd brain of Bob Carlton: subtle as a biff with a spanner but leaving a far pleasanter impression. Drummer Eric Glamis stiffs vocalist Terry King so he can strut and fret upon the stage as Thane Cawdor, frontman of The Coronets, under the weird managership of Duke Box... you get the picture? (Yes, we see... and oh, what a rendition of Leader Of The Pack.)

The club atmosphere of the Boulevard helps enormously; the stage barely has room for the band, let alone a set, but a show that couldn't sustain the scale of Carlton's other Shakespoof goes down a treat in Paul Raymond's nether regions. The style is familiar now: a bubbling brew of old Bill, utterly daft dialogue in almost flawless blank verse and an impeccable choice of numbers – Terry's ghostly return crooning Tell Laura I Love Her not unnaturally has Eric shakin' all over.

There's no point in singling out individual performances, although Richard Doubleday's meeja hipster is clearly written to steal scenes. Carlton overplays his hand towards the end (skimming over plot, slipping in gratuitous tunes, even indulging in self-referential gags at the close), and a flat £15 for 90 minutes in a fringe venue is plain exploitative, but really by then you'll be too busy simultaneously dancing and rolling in the aisles to begrudge it much. Damn'd be him that first cries, "Hold, enough!"

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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