Wild with abandon sit kids a row behind smacking and slapping their maws as they chew, gnaw and measure out pops of gum, sticky of saliva. Silence is never there when the cheeks make such noises.
On it goes with the muted sounds as Mushkin sings, but the tunes fall short as the throat catches most of it. Short on projection, the live band that plays on keeps up their volume to levels that make it difficult to appreciate whatever lyrics are drifting out from the store owner.
Little Shop of Horrors is a musical done at an intimate scale. The props and puppets are close up with the smell of what appears to be the back of a stock room. That dusty feel of being in the thick of watching the emotions crawl out of actors as they belt one out and contemplate the theoretical engine that drives a narrative that runs amok after seeding.
Audrey II grows at a rate unbecoming of such a plant. The fabric and costumes around its evolution takes on a scale that is at first comical and then grotesque with a huge scoop of ingenuity when it’s able to swallow people whole.
There is an overall sadness to the songs. They lament and yearn more than they celebrate. Anguish being the fuel of the night as each character seems to come and return to a dark place. The humour that drips in serves to double down on the harsh scope of life. It’s that “funny” that exists when you’re not sure if you should laugh. Not the kind that relieves tension. More the adjacent type.
Pathetic is what it is. The place to crawl up from, clawing up somewhere looking for something better. Wanting for tomorrow to be less painful that the day before, subsisting on the memory and visions of greener things. Audrey homes in on that front, catching a downward spin and giving into failing one last time hoping it’s a good one. Seymour seems aptly lost and overwhelmed by keeping a lid on the lost control. The bumbling is on point, making sure everyone else is looking the other way as the second-in-control mastermind continues on the path made of blood and bones.
Orrin seems to have no redeeming qualities and revels in this nature. The huffing and puffing of nitrous oxide ignites a set of eyes that bulge out and continue this horrible person’s arc into the abyss. Cackling never lets up.
It’s that late stage in the deflection game. All the people are running to the noise while the machine chugs on in another direction and continues to burn through the woods. That they continue to fall for the misdirection means they want to leave it at that and ask no more questions. You get the fame, you get the money, you run off and disappear if you could.
You can’t. And that’s the ache of Little Shop of Horrors being at the surface a madcap ride while the musical underneath keeps lopping off tendons to cripple you into a standing pot of misery as the world around you grows on.
Picking weeds at the 2 March 2018 display at 19:00 by Flashback Theater at the Stoner Little Theatre. Squeezing into one of the sold out performances.
Reviewed on Friday, 16 March 2018