Review – Silence! The Musical!, Above The Stag Theatre

Monday 22 February 2010

Yes, even Phil’s Mother guessed that Silence! The Musical is based on the film Silence of the Lambs, even though she’s never seen it, is likely to see it, or even knows anything about it.

Whatever next Schindler! based on Schindler’s List?  Dawn! based on Dawn of the Dead? Raging! based on Raging Bull? Sadly these aren’t our ideas, but just some of the spoof posters for shows on the stairs as you climb Above The Stag to see Silence!, creating just the right mood for what you’re about to witness.

Sounds preposterous doesn’t it? And the Whingers can report that it is, and in exactly the right way.

Even the Stag’s unreserved seating policy couldn’t damage the Whingers’ enjoyment which started seconds into the show. A chorus line of (Bob) Fosse-styled singing lambs is  punctuated by Clarice Starling jogging across the stage on a training run and stepping in some dog poo. Sounds puerile, doesn’t it? Absolutely, and it had the Whingers guffawing and they never really stopped.

Silence! is an unauthorised parody of the movie almost scene by scene (book by Hunter Bell, Music and Lyrics by Jon and Al Kaplan). We won’t bore you with the plot as we assume you already know it and if you don’t then there’s little point going along as you’ll miss a lot of the gags anyhoo. But if you do you’ll enjoy Clarice/Jodie Foster’s shibilant delivery, Buffalo Bill’s genital tuck (not the Whingers’ first on-stage genital tuck as it happens), Dr Hannibal Lecter’s outrageous “I can smell your c***” number and even a helicopter wittily created on the Stag’s small stage.

There are many delights in the cast: Miles Western manges to be both sinister and funny as Lecter, Fabian Hartwell is outrageously bonkers as the killer Buffalo Bill, Catherine Millsom as both his victim and victim’s mother and Tory Ross who, with several big Broadway shows under her belt, is even more shibilant than the audience and enjoyably deadpan as Agent Sterling (who graduated from UVA, majoring in criminology with a minor in dance).

And all of this talent supported by some wonderful visual gags (the quality of Lecter’s drawings, Lecter cleaning the glass of his cell, Buffalo Bill’s View-Master night vision goggles and so on).

Well done to director and choreographer Christopher Gattelli for keeping it all moving at a ripping pace with nods to other musicals such as Chicago and Les Miserables. The Whingers have graciously granted him an unconditional pardon for his involvement in the shockingly pointless Altar Boyz. Now, here is a show that is really quite more than the sum of its parts.

It’s also a show that wears its low-rent production values like a glove. Wearing their imaginary producers’ titfers the Whingers were nodding in agreement that it wouldn’t work in the West End or indeed anywhere bigger or more glamorous than Above The Stag (which basically means anywhere else). But here, it’s almost perfect.

It’s selling out quickly for its last week at The Stag (last performance Sunday 28th Feb) but no doubt it’ll be kicking about on the fringe for years to come. If you can’t get in to see it here’s the French and Saunders send-up to tide you over till then.



No arguments here.

PS: And thanks to oughttobeclowns for prompting us to go and to webcowgirl for (albeit somewhat redundantly) suggesting that a couple of pre-show drinks puts one right in exactly the right mood for it.


5 Responses to “Review – Silence! The Musical!, Above The Stag Theatre”

  1. A Clown Says:

    Hurrah! I knew you wouldn’t be able to resist its charms. I managed to make Tory Ross corpse on the night I saw it, just before her final number, such was the helpless laughter emanating from our party, I thought she really was excellent.
    But it was the level of attention to detail that really won me over, it was so packed full of carefully worked smaller details that I don’t think I stopped laughing throughout the whole thing. The tango dancing and Lecter’s pictures were definitely a winner for me though.
    Here’s hoping Love Never Dies makes me laugh as much…

  2. webcowgirl Says:

    I’ve rarely seen a show that more rewarded seeing it buzzed. For once, it’s not because you need to protect yourself from it’s inanity; no, it helps you embrace it.

    Poor little lambies.

  3. PhilK Says:

    And this Silence of the lambs had something the film lacked – lambs! I bet the film-makers are kicking themselves, it was staring them in the face all along 😉

  4. John Says:

    Phil’s mother is still alive?!

  5. SallyDurant Says:

    Oh my God! I can’t believe they finally put this on stage! I have had the music for many years, but I thought it was completely unstageable. I’m really sorry I missed it.

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