Playground Theatre, London – until 8 December 2018
Set at a sci-fi convention for a fictional show, Angel8, original musical Fanatical looks at fan culture, the influence of role models and the importance of being passionate.
Originally a comic, Angel8 has been made into a TV series which has gained a cult following. OG fan Trix, wants to celebrate the show and prove the power of the fans so she puts on a convention featuring cosplay competitions, an art hall and a special guest speech by Angel8 creator, Scott Furnish. However, a no-show from the creator, a journalist snooping around and some budding romances mean there’s more to the convention than meets the eye.
Matt Board’s music is witty and catchy from the get-go, with ‘When The Internet Was Young’, reminiscing about the days of dial-up and setting the tone for this upbeat, heartfelt musical. We are quickly introduced to a number of quirky characters whose commitment to Angel8 is commendable and something I’m sure we can all relate to on some level.
As convention creator Trix, Suanne Braun is suitably caffeinated and passionate, with her act 2 solo, ‘Any Moment Now’ gaining laugh after laugh. Stephen Frost is hard but worn as writer Scott Furnish, but also hints at a softer side which makes him a likeable character who at his core is a fan like everyone else. Eddy Payne gives a humorous performance as Baxter who’s lovestruck with his former babysitter, Andra.
Sophie Powles is wonderful as Andra, with her beautiful voice and sweet performance really standing out. Andra is well rounded and goes through a nice character arc as she begins to embody the superhero she’s always looked up to; mention must go to Sophie’s lovely performance of Spoiler Alert. As undercover reporter and love interest for Andra, Tim Rogers does a great job as Craig.
The rest of the convention goers and staff are brought to life by the fabulous trio, Amber Sylvia Edwards (Jillian), Theodore Crosby (Bernard) and Amy Lovatt (Lizette) who sleekly bring a number of characters to life. Their act one number, Look What I Made is especially admirable and perfectly highlights what it means to be enthusiastic, and find a place where you feel like you belong. All three performers give spades of energy and bring a whole lot to the show.
P J McEvoy’s set, although a little flimsy at times, creates the convention atmosphere well and the artwork for the show is so well done that it really does feel like a real comic (the subtle increase in price from £2.50 to £3.350 in the programme is a great detail).
Whilst there are still some things that need brushing up, this is a great base for a production and there’s certainly potential for growth and developments to make this show something special which will touch the hearts of fans all over. Fanatical will have you laughing and wanting to celebrate being you.
Fanatical runs at the Playground Theatre until 8th December
photo credit: Scott Rylander