Little Shop of Horrors at The Athenæum

It’s Autumn. The leaves are falling from the trees and clogging up the streets of Warminster. But, at The Ath, there has been one plant that has been growing stronger and more blood-thirsty as days pass. Audrey 2 was one of the stars of last week’s production of Little Shop of Horrors but, to be honest, every member of the cast could have had a golden star on their dressing room door. The show was an absolute triumph. My problem with this review is how to cram in all the necessary superlatives.

The whole show was anchored by ‘the Ronettes’, three lively trios who were distinguishable by their green, yellow or blue costumes. They led us down Skid Row brilliantly, introducing us to all the low-lives and losers who live there. Finally, we settled on the stars of the show at Mushnick’s Florist, Seymour Krelbourn and the love of his life, Audrey. These two roles were played by Barnaby Craven-Smith and Paige Gibson and they were both stunning. Barnaby’s comic timing was superb and, as for Paige, well, what a voice! Throughout the show these two drew you in, whether it was Paige’s yearning for ‘Somewhere that’s Green’ or their duet ‘Suddenly Seymour’.

However, these were by no means the only people who stole the show. Archie Best as Mushnick was tremendous and his duet with Barnaby on ‘Mushnick and Son’  had me crying tears of laughter. Poonpan Kleawpiya relished his role as Orin the sadistic dentist, made famous by Steve Martin in the film, but Poonpan was no less vicious, whether he was drilling teeth or mistreating Audrey. There were cheers when he met his sticky end!

One other character loomed large throughout the production. Audrey 2, the ‘mean green mother’ grew throughout the production, from a small pot plant at the start with an amazing ability to smirk at the thought of Seymour’s blood, to a giant mouth that demanded more and more as the show progressed. The voice of Audrey 2 was the incredible soul power of Zavia Doyling who finally was allowed to emerge from behind Audrey 2’s façade to lead the last two numbers. In addition, the ‘plant operators’ endowed Audrey 2 with a real personality throughout the show.

There was also a huge number of wonderful characters parts – the fearful dental patient played by Sam Milner-Smith and a couple of rather strange ‘women’ who seemed to be related to Henry Williams, stood out in particular. The chorus who gawped through the shop windows, tried to buy the plant off Seymour or, finally, found themselves transformed into ‘plant zombies’, seemed to never rest and sung their hearts out. I must also highlight the brilliant choreography which was sharp and lively. Every single member of the cast and crew gave their absolute all for this amazing, exhilarating show and all of them should be so pleased and proud at what they created.

None of this would have been possible without the incredible efforts of the Creative Team, Mrs Harris as Director and Mr Bridges as Musical Director, both ably assisted by Producer, Mrs Robinson, and Assistant Directors, Mr Kemp and Miss Bolton. They too deserve a whole heap of praise along with the live band! The only issue will be – where next? And remember, people, don’t feed the plant!

J. Robertson

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