Theatre review: We Will Rock You, Playhouse, Edinburgh

MAMMA MIA!, seen at the Playhouse last month, may be the queen of tribute musicals; but We Will Rock You is the tribute musical of Queen, one of the best-loved rock bands of the last half-century, and 17 years on from its London premier, it too retains the power to pack the 3,000 seat Playhouse to the rafters.

The cast of We Will Rock You
The cast of We Will Rock You

We Will Rock You, Playhouse, Edinburgh ****

The show features a famously jokey script by Ben Elton, who tells of a distant future in which live music is banned, everyone lives on the internet, and the only pop available to the strictly-regimented young citizens is computer-generated pap.

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There’s just one guy, a dreamer called Galileo Figaro, who has nightly visions of the long-lost world of rock and roll; and when he meets up with his Goth-like other half, whom he calls Scaramouche, the pair set off on a classic quest to find the last buried musical instrument, and to make sure that rock is reborn.

The whole show, in other words, is a slightly camp and self-mocking sci-fi-fest of marching metal-clad robots, alternating with grungy scenes in the rubbish-strewn rebel wasteland beyond the city. The action is punctuated with a playlist of 24 much-loved Queen hits; Ian McIntosh sings brilliantly as Galileo, while the charismatic Elena Skye acts her Doc Martens off as Scaramouche.

And by the time we reach the wreckage of Wembley Stadium – where a strange boom-boom-bang rhythm fills the air – we’re ready to rise to our feet, stamp the ground, and get down, to the inimitable sound of We Will Rock You itself.

JOYCE MCMILLAN

Playhouse, Edinburgh, final performances today; Theatre Royal, Glasgow 9-14 December, and His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 10-15 February.