Ambriel Productions provided an evening of vibrant amusement in its performance of the well-known, but nonetheless greatly enjoyable, Little Shop of Horrors.
The production was a triumph as an ensemble, and some of the best moments of the show were the scenes in which the majority of the cast were onstage: the larger group songs that open and close the play particularly stood out.
The majority of its musical numbers were accompanied by simple but effective choreography. When performed by the main cast members, these dances became absurd and humorous, while the three ‘street urchins’ making up the chorus showed some inconsistency in the energy they presented (though this may perhaps be attributed to its being the dress rehearsal).
Such fluctuation in dynamism could also be seen across other characters, with the entrances of Orin Scrivello, D.D.S (played by Laurence Belcher) bringing more life and humour to the stage.
It was, in fact, the villains of this play who claimed the standout performances—Scrivello for his almost pantomime level of caricature (which transferred strongly into the other roles Belcher took on later in the play) and Audrey II with her fantastic sassiness.
Jess Bollands, the brilliantly powerful voice of this devious plant, seemed to take over the stage as her leafy character took over Mushnik’s shop. Although there were occasional discrepancies between Audrey II’s lines and the movement of the speaking plant, it was overall well designed and operated, especially for an amateur production.
While there are entire websites dedicated to spreading the amusement provided by various low budget, rather odd Audrey IIs (lowbudgetaudrey2.tumblr.com can supply hours of entertainment), Ambriel Productions’ version avoided this category and instead delivered a degree of vibrant eccentricity that was disappointingly lacking in the costumes of other characters.
The original Audrey (played by Amelia Gabriel) in particular seemed slightly more toned down than I’d expected, though her role was still highly amusing. She delivered some of the play’s most entertaining lines, and her accent was at times excellent.
While the costumes (and perhaps the eccentricities) of various characters were relatively restrained, the set counteracted this with its striking billboard and use of coloured lights, and frequently enhanced the lurid, fantastically odd atmosphere that I most enjoyed about this play.
Overall, while the theme of domestic violence created more uncomfortable humour than perhaps it would have in the original staging, Ambriel Productions’ play was fun, thoroughly amusing, and definitely worth watching.