Big songs, big talent, big heart – Go Eugenius!
Eugene, Janey, and Feris, Geeks in 1980s America. Running into bullies, attending school, Eugenius! Mashes together a comic book adventure with a teen love story, weaving 80s neon, cartoon and movie references throughout its musical glory.
Life seems pretty standard for Eugene and his friends until Hollywood comes a calling and Eugene’s comic book ‘Tough Man’ is picked up to be made into a movie.
Will anyone’s lives stay the same? Will Evil Lord Hector capture Super Hot Lady and defeat Tough Man? Will the crowd be chanting ‘Go Eugenius!’ by the end of the night?
It’s Eugenius! The new musical by Ben Adams (formerly of A1) and Chris Wilkins and co-produced by Warwick Davies (who was sat on the row behind us with his wife).
We first encountered them at MCM London Comic Con.
5 months later CfG attended opening night at The Other Palace, London.
Spoiler warning – we LOVED it and you should go.
There was a real buzz in the air waiting for the doors to open, (once we’d seen some of the actors it was clear a lot of family were present) and we made our way into the small yet modern theatre
A multitiered stage, spattered with UV paint, a huge galaxy backdrop, instruments on stage (I love being able to see the band).
Eugenius opens with the booming voice of Brian Blessed. Always a good sign.
A scene in space, Tough Man and his twin brother’s origin story – a very strong opening song (Tough Man) with 80s movie overtones introduced the key players of the Tough Man comic book; Tough Man, Super Hot Lady, and Evil Lord Hector and we learn of Tough Man’s only weakness – love.
All a dream in young Eugene’s mind we are swiftly returned to the real world to learn that he’s a geek. Janey fancies him. He’s oblivious. School. Bullies. 80s references abound.
Sadly some of the real world elements sag, lots of scene setting takes place and Eugene himself is a bit of a wet blanket (is that the point?), lacking charisma, the group sing about being geeks, get bullied, and it drags a bit until the ever likeable Dan Buckley takes to the stage – a horny teenager with way too much self-confidence as Eugene’s best friend Feris.
Finally Eugene gets his big break and heads to Hollywood to make ‘Tough Man: The Movie’ and, without giving too much away, things don’t quite go to plan.
It’s still a bit saggy at this point, the glorious opening scene giving way to the mundane (again is that the point?) with one song feeling like it’s just there to shoehorn references to E.T., Ghostbusters, and more.
Fortunately the wonderfully campy Evil Lord Hector, in a combination of Shredder and Skeletor’s costumes, keeps popping up to the crowd’s delight, the movie is cast, mishaps, fight scenes, and wonderful choreography plus some ridiculous costumes builds to a fist-pumping crescendo.
With nods to pop culture of the 80s, a gloriously upbeat set of original songs, Eugenius! is an utter joy.
It would benefit from trimming down some of the scene setting, and a song or two in each half could go to make it pacier. Weighing in at 60 and 65 minutes each it never quite outstays its welcome but may come close for some people.
However, it’s so much fun, Evil Lord Hector, Feris, and Super Hot Lady own every scene they’re in, somewhat overshadowing the leads (is that the point too?).
It gets surprisingly racy; this is aimed at those who lived the 80s/90s with a euphemistic song about sex, and a not quite so euphemistically song about sex, but the kids in the largely adult audience took it all in their stride, and a dad leaving the theatre declaring loudly “that was a solid piece of entertainment”.
Which it absolutely was!
A standing ovation rounded things off for an emotional cast.
Geeks, nerds, fans of the unusual, get your tickets and get ready to shout “Go Eugenius!” for this a great big fat “CfG Recommended – 5 Stars!”
Get your tickets at the official site.
Eugenius! Is on a limited run at The Other Palace. We bought our own tickets.
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