Wednesday, August 10

Lizard Boy – Hope Mill Theatre

Folk rock meets reptiles in this superhero-inspired, coming-of-age musical about finding love from the most unexpected sources.

Our highly-strung hero Trevor (Justin Huertas) shut himself away from the world after an encounter with a dragon left him with green, scaly skin. Twenty-years later, a first date is set to take him out of his shell and on a life-changing adventure.

Musical talent in this production is off the scale: in catchy, off-West End quality songs, the original US cast of 3 adroitly jumps from guitars to xylophones to kazoos like it’s second nature. The trio boast superb vocals, particularly Kirsten ‘Kiki’ Delohr Helland whose voice elevates every number to mythical heights. William A. Williams also contributes skilful beatbox riffs to them.

As Trevor, writer Justin Huertas steers the tale with arresting determination. He delivers emotion from the heart through his lyrics and performances of each and every song, highlights being ‘Things I Want’ and ‘Recess’. Meanwhile, Helland plays the beguiling Siren with unwavering vehemence.

It is a pity that the story itself ends up being the weakest part of ‘Lizard Boy’. Despite an eccentric premise, the thin narrative thread only just sustains the one-hour run-time. Other than a rudimentary message of self-acceptance, it’s unclear what it sets out to achieve; nothing new or thought-provoking is offered.

Including characters that are gay mostly comes across as an excuse to throw in some oh-so tired Grindr gags, overused references to RuPaul’s Drag Race and just a spot of mild kink-shaming. The relationship depicted, however, is endearing and one of hope.

Story aside, this is an enjoyable, well-produced piece in which the Lizards demonstrate a lot of promise. They will be ones to watch out for as ‘Lizard Boy’ continues its journey to the Edinburgh Fringe.

A fantastical, musically-sound hit.

‘Lizard Boy’ continues at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester until 27th July with tickets available from https://hopemilltheatre.co.uk/events/lizard-boy

Reviewer: Scot Cunningham

Reviewed: 19th July 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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