The Other Palace, London
The Other Palace played host to the UK premiere of Rob Rokicki’s Monstersongs, a theatrical experience that combines rock music, theatre, graphic novels and technology. Taking form as part song cycle, part staged show, Monstersongs is a journey into the minds of often misunderstood ‘monsters’ and ‘baddies’. The music flips the switch on the traditional monster narrative and welcomes us to look at the alternative side of a story and the humanity which unites us all.
This show has the potential to be performed in a number of venues and formats so it will certainly be exciting to see how it evolves and progresses. In its current iteration, we see a series of stories introduced by the young narrator, Bradley Riches who welcomes the creatures to centre stage as well as becoming the Dragon in the rousing song, Reluctantly.
Aside from the vocal performances, the live band is the star of the show. Providing enough oomph for the rock feel but not becoming overpowering, even in the intimate space of The Other Palace Studio. David O’Neill’s graphic novel artwork is also its own character, with projections adding another layer of interest to the story and helping create the multi-sensory feel of the performance.
Sinéad Wall and Amanda Flynn give a standout performance with ‘Blood and Brains’ which is in equal measures humorous and gruesome. Wall also performs ‘Say Goodbye’, a moving number about the pain of Medusa as she freezes another man to stone, with vocal ease and power; whilst Flynn is suitably heartbroken and wicked at the scorned witch in ‘Hell Hath No Fury’.
Tyrone Huntley is a vocal powerhouse in ‘Down and Under’ which tells the story of the troll under the bridge and ‘Right Through You’ is performed with chilling smoothness by Cleopatra Higgins. Another stand out is certainly George Damms in both his first number, ‘The Plans’, where he is extremely witty as Igor and his second solo, ‘I’m Sorry’ in which he showcases his superb vocals.
Whilst I wouldn’t say Monstersongs is an immersive show right now, it certainly has the potential to be one and it could definitely do well as a musical which becomes a sort of art installation. It’s a 60 minute rock musical about monsters, that provides vocal greatness and heartfelt (if at times predictable) stories- what more could you ask for?