Review: Fringe Preview-Shotgun Theatre’s ‘The Remarkables’

4 Stars

After seeing The Remarkables when it first debuted in March, I was intrigued to see how co-writers Matt Smith and Sean Wareing had edited their original musical to make it Fringe-ready. With a few script cuts and new songs, I was impressed to see the changes made while retaining the show’s hilarity and ridiculousness. With an incredibly witty cast and creative team, The Remarkables remains a thoroughly enjoyable and strikingly professional student-written musical.

A satire of the conventional superhero storyline, this musical centres around the self-consciously cliché and absurdly superficial Remarkables. Their leader Captain Yeah (Freddie Walker) demonstrates a distinctive charm through his smooth voice and smirking expressions, yet his narcissism indicates the group’s internal corruption. Captain Yeah is accompanied by Mrs Rock-Hard (Kathryn Pridgeon), whose delivery of ridiculous claims through a completely serious, straight-face and an unexplainable Australian accent had me in tears of laughter. Last but certainly not least (Rest in Peace Neverdie) is Nunman (Sam Webber), who’s self-righteousness made him hilarious without even trying. Proving the perfect parody of a typical superhero tale with their witty one-liners and distinctive characters, these heroes-turned-villains demonstrate the impressive talent of the musical’s writers.

While I’m aware of the time restraints of a Fringe Show – and thus it isn’t necessarily a fault of the creative team – I did however feel it a shame that so much of the original superheroes’ character development was cut from the original. The new edit leaves them lacking in likability from the start, making them automatically egotistical and dubious, rather than provoking any misleading sense of adoration for them. Even for new audience members who hadn’t seen the show before, we could see their villainy coming.

Again, though, this is certainly not the fault of the brilliant cast, and this time I was particularly impressed by the development of ‘villain’ Dr Takeover, played by Fenella Twohig-Howell, for whom the writers had listened to the criticism of previous RAZZ reviewer Alice Walters and exchanged her ablest storyline for an environmentally conscious one. Twohig-Howell proved a fantastic musical and acting talent, her passion for the city was as absurd as it was endearing, and I felt her musical numbers were the most note-perfect and engaging.

On that note – pun intended – the most impressive aspect of this production surely remains the music. Directed by Hum Chandra with lyrics written by Smith and Wareing, the musical numbers were of such an exciting and expert standard (even without the full orchestra) that it is easy to forget they are student-written. Comprising of catchy choruses, witty retorts, and memorable melodies, songs such as ‘Give up’ and ‘Nobody’s Perfect Except You’ are fantastic demonstrations of both the hilarity and professionalism of this production, infused with the satire and irony of a great comedic musical.

The costumes are also worthy of commendation, as I was particularly fond both of Wesley’s handmade morph suit, and Dr Takeover’s feathered purple-and-black coat. The recognisable ‘Remarkables’ logo lends the production’s costumes to distinctive branding, which is cleverly and self-referentially the focus of the musical itself. Hence the costume team’s attention to detail was, for me, fundamental to the production’s overall quality.

Ultimately, The Remarkables is both an impressive critique of societal idolisation and celebrity culture, and equally a childishly entertaining piece about ridiculous superheroes. The show is in need of a little polish, and I would warn the creatives to ensure jokes are funny to all audiences and not just their cast and friends. Yet, I was incredibly impressed with this musical once again, and thankful I got to see it before it heads to the Fringe; the entire cast and crew should be so proud of the show they have created!

Eleanor-Rose Gordon

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