Brilliantly bonkers, Eugenius! is a musical that declares "the geeks shall inherit the earth". It’s no wonder, given how it celebrates outsiders and pokes fun at the so-called cool kids, that it’s already gained a cult following, returning to The Other Palace in London after a buzzy debut there earlier this year.
I missed it on its first visit but am thrilled by its second go-round. Conceived by former A1 boybander Ben Adams and his actor-writer friend Chris Wilkins, it’s full of really catchy tunes and it’s kind of sweet as well as side-splittingly funny and engaging, peppered as it is with madcap characters and performers who take the mantra ‘Go for it’ to the max. There’s not a wallflower among the leads and chorus and not a single moment that lags.
Set in the '80s, it’s about Eugene (an adorable Rob Houchen), a high school misfit who dreams up a superhero comic book about a caped Tough Man who is firm but fair and his Super Hot Lady sidekick, then finds Hollywood wants to turn his dream into a movie.
Thus we get a touching story about not fitting in mixed with a sharp spoof about the filmmaking business that eventually takes an hilarious turn for the surreal when characters from Eugene’s comic universe begin to bleed into reality.
Photography: Scott Rylander
It is, as I say, quite bonkers. It’s also terrifically camp (a big shout out to Scott Paige, who is hysterical as a gay studio exec called Theo Schlong) and tongue-in-cheek whilst still spinning a heart-warming yarn, a sort of Rocky Horror meets Ed Wood via Little Shop Of Horrors and the Marvel Cinematic Universe but with its own unique streak.
If it loses focus a bit towards the end that’s OK - it all comes together again for a rousing finish complete with dance routine in a nifty nod to Ben’s boyband past.
Eugenius! is at The Other Palace, London until 7 October. For great deals on tickets and shows click here.
Words: Simon Button