This new musical based on the mysterious creature said to live in the Gobi desert is filled with fun – but could use a stronger plot development to make it really satisfying.
Musicals can be inspired by a range of different characters and real life events. However, it has to be said that musicals based on a legendary creature said to live in the desert in Mongolia are pretty thin on the ground.
Step forward Mongolian Death Worm: A Puppet Show Musical which follows the exploits of Professor Roy Chapman Andrews who is sent to Mongolia because his university have been suffering the effects of a meat shortage in the area. On arriving, Andrews discovers a village terrorised by a mysterious giant worm that has been stealing sausages, disrupting the local economy and occasionally eating people. The plot might be utterly ludicrous and over the top – but actually has paid a lot of attention to the detail.
Written and composed by James Ure and Michael A. Grant, this is a musical that unashamedly doesn’t take itself too seriously – particularly when it comes to the wild ideas that Roy Chapman Andrews and his sidekick the Sheriff come up with to try and get the worm to come out of hiding. The script could use a little more development in terms of the plot development and can feel slightly repetitive in places in terms of the ongoing gag of the pair being whacked over the head with a frying pan and the ending itself could have been slightly stronger.
This being said, there is still potential to be found in term of the music and lyrics which include songs such as ‘Every Hero Needs a Villain’ and ‘The Ballad of the Mongolian Death Worm’ proving to be very catchy and memorable.
But it is also the way in which the show pays attention to detail – particularly in terms of the set design that makes it feel suitably theatrical – even by including some audience sound effects, while the scene changes are as smooth as they can be. Yes the set perhaps is a little bit rustic – but somehow that adds to the charm and shows the level of imagination that has gone into the creation of the musical. One highlight moment is seeing two of the puppets fighting – very cleverly edited and a good use of props make this a memorable moment.
It is not a musical that will be everyone’s cup of tea (or in Roy Chapman Andrews case cup of venom) with characters and a story that could be developed more fully, there are still some nice elements about it that show glimmers of potential for a more elaborate production.
By Emma Clarendon
Mongolian Death Worm: A Puppet Musical is available to watch on Youtube here.