Tuesday, June 18

Little Shop of Horrors – Hull Truck Theatre

There was an air of excitement in the packed foyer of Hull Truck Theatre, on Thursday evening, as theatregoers entered in their droves to watch a production of Little House of Horrors.

Taking our seats, we were faced with a stage setting showing a small florist shop, on Skid Row, in downtown New York, belonging to a Mr Mushnik.

Customers are few and far between, with drunkards and drop-outs being the only passers-by.

Mushnik (Andrew Whitehead) has two assistants – nerdy Seymour (Oliver Mawdsley), whom he took in as an orphan, and the lovely Audrey (Laura Jane Matthewson), regularly battered by her abusive boyfriend, Orin (Mathew Ganley).

Things were much livelier outside the shop, mainly due to three characterful females – guitarists Crystal (Zweyla Mitchell Dos Santos) and Ronnette (Chardai Shaw), with Chiffon (Janna May) on keyboards.

With their beautiful singing voices, musicianship and wild dancing, they added a joie de vivre to proceedings.

Photo: Pamela Raith Photography

As the production’s name suggests, this is a horror story, but I have never laughed so much at blood and gore.

Everyone connected with this amazing production played their part in giving us in the audience a night to remember – and one to laugh about for days to come.

The very talented, yet small, cast, aided and abetted by live music, including drumming by Migdalia van der Hoven, and a stage setting that, literally, grew and grew as the night wore on, thanks to the funniest and most spectacular special effect (my lips are sealed), thoroughly deserved the instant and prolonged standing ovation at the show’s end. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Without giving too much away, the gist of the story centres around the aforementioned nerd, Seymour (my favourite character on the night), who manages to keep Mushnik’s shop from closing down by discovering an unknown plant, which instantly attracts more customers to the shop.

Accidentally discovering what the plant thrives on leads Seymour to commit murderous deeds, alien to his weedy character.

The more murderous he became, the more we laughed. And each dramatic and unique death had us in hysterics.

And the comedic shenanigans kept coming and coming, with the entertaining lyrics being both sung and spoken clearly by all concerned.

Ganley, as Audrey’s abusive dentist boyfriend, took on several roles on the night, but his funniest scenes took place in his office, especially when he had Seymour in the dental chair.

Mawdsley’s Seymour was relentlessly rip-roaringly funny with facial expressions and actions that sometimes verged on slapstick.

Amidst all this hilarity, Mathewson perfectly portrayed the physically abused Audrey whose black eye and broken arm were no laughing matter, tempering the fun atmosphere for a time. Her wonderful singing voice revealed all the emotions of her plight.

Whitehead, as shop owner Mushnik, was very realistic as a brusque “Noo Yorker”, at times managing to show us a different side to his character – but would it be his downfall?

All the above talents were, literally, put in the shade by the star of the show, Seymour’s newly discovered plant, so cleverly operated by Matthew Heywood and very amusingly voiced by Anton Stephans.

This production has everything – love, greed and murder to name just three. But above all, it is fun. I loved every ridiculous minute.

Running until Saturday, June 8th, 2024; 7.30pm nightly with 2pm matinees on various days, plus an 11am baby-friendly show on Friday, May 31st. Tickets cost from £10. Call (01482) 323638 or visit www.hulltruck.co.uk

Reviewer: Jackie Foottit

Reviewed: 23rd May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.