Theatre review: We Will Rock You, Playhouse, Edinburgh

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

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.

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.