A toe tapping dark comedy, Heathers will have you laughing out loud at subjects in which you should really keep a straight face.
Based on the cult classic 80s movie Heathers (Starring Christian Slater and Winona Ryder), Heathers the musical draws a very fine line between satire and serious subjects such as rape, suicide and of course murder, fortunately it does so very well indeed.
Veronica Sawyer (Rebecca Wickes) is a student trying to survive life in high school, who just happens to have a talent for forging people’s writing. When this talent gets her noticed by the popular girls/ the Heathers (Maddison Firth, Merryl Ansah and Lizzy Parker) she finds herself entangled in a life of popularity, sex and one mysterious new boy: Jason Dean (Simon Gordon). One thing leads to another and Veronica and JD find themselves forging a suicide note for a dead Heather Chandler, setting off a line of murders and suicides which plunge their school into chaos.
Wickes plays the role of Veronica superbly, giving us a young teenager who gets caught up in this world of madness whilst just looking for security in her hellish school. Wickes is sweet, energetic and bubbly, unable to say no to those around her, this makes it all the more exciting when she breaks in the show stopping number ‘I say no’. As an audience you cannot help but love her, no matter how many mistakes the character makes along the way, making her journey into a strong, unstoppable powerhouse that bit more satisfying. Her vocal ability is exceptional, moving seamlessly between her head and chest voice. She really does bring something different to the character of Veronica vocally that you will not find in the West End or Off-Broadway soundtracks.
The soundtrack alone to this show is a bopper, to choose one song as a favourite would be criminal. There are songs that make you laugh, songs that make you cry and even songs that make want to get up on stage and dance with them. The lyrics are all very catchy and are often used to make fun of dark topics of discussion, for example ‘Freeze Your Brain’ is about depression and suicidal thoughts, but instead you find yourself laughing throughout. ‘You’re Welcome’ is strangely a very amusing song about date rape but overall, the most effective song for this is ’Kindergarten Boyfriend’ performed by Mhairi Angus as Martha Dunstock. Angus pulls upon one’s heart strings whilst also perfectly finding the satire in her lyrics, not to mention she has a heavily angelic voice.
As for set, the main set doesn’t change all that much, with the main background always being of the school however the way that they translate the changing of locations is very cleaver. The majority of the set is made up of sliding wall pieces, which when removed from the main frame are used to set up other locations such as Veronica’s garden and a 7/11 store. For the most part the audience are left to use their own imaginations however these little quirky touches really do add something special. A projector is also used to show a change in day time.
Despite its popularity with the younger generation and the characters themselves being of school age, this is not a family friendly show. Mature themes are repeated throughout, with “Dead Girl Walking” turning into a full-on sex scene and suicide being the main topic of the majority of the second act. Whilst it is also for satire effect and to show political and societal standpoints of 1980s America, there is also a large amount of homophobic slurring which is something to be heavily aware of beforehand.
Overall, this is a fantastic show with an incredible cast, 5 stars for sure. Get yourselves to the theatre to see it whilst you still can. Playing until the 11th December https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/heathers-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/
Reviewer: Beth Eltringham
Reviewed: 7th December 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★