I headed to the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch in order to see the 25th anniversary production of Return to the Forbidden Planet. The musical was adapted by Bob Carlton, current artistic director of the Queen’s, from a 1950s B-movie, the plot of which was based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. What we have ended up with is a hilarious musical which mingles science fiction, Shakespeare and Seventies rock songs.
Part of the fun is trying to spot the Shakespearean quotes and references, not just from The Tempest but from the Bard’s entire oeuvre. The talented cast are hugely enjoyable to watch, including Jonathan Markwood as Prospero, Sean Needham as Captain Tempest and Sarah Scowen as Miranda. Joseph Mann deserves a special mention for stepping up at the last minute to play Ariel the robot (the original cast member suffered an injury).
The crew, including set and costume designer Rodney Ford, lighting designer Mark Dymock, visual effects designer Daniel Crew and choreographer Fredrick “Frido” Ruth, have created a spectacular staging for the musical. Overall it is a fabulous experience.