Quentin Tarantino is a name that everyone has heard at least once, whether you’re an avid fan of the movies, or have just heard the name in conversation, this industry juggernaut is known for some of the most classic films in history, so it simply makes sense for a show to be made surrounding his work.
Whilst it is widely advertised as a musical, it is more of a cabaret/live show. Singing, dancing and photos/videos are all allowed and encouraged – providing that you are still respectful to those around you and the actors, so stay in your seat and don’t take photos with flash. This encouragement of crowd involvement creates such an exciting air around the show, with excited cheers coming from the audience at classic movie moments being recreated onstage.
This production stars the Fox Force Five, a group of Tarantino’s most fierce female characters, as they conquer the Tyranny of Evil Men in a battle of wit and will-power with revenge as the ultimate goal.
This rock and roll musical features storylines from a plethora of fan favourites, including Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Jackie Brown, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, Hateful Eight and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Even if you haven’t seen a single one of these films you will still enjoy this show. The masterful musicians and stunning SFX are enough to keep the audience enraptured with the production.
For this performance, the cast was James Byous (Butch), Cleo Caetano (Butterfly), Samara Casteallo (Jackie), Sha Dessi (O Ren), Maëva Feitelson (Fabienne), Mark Isherwood (Bill), Tara Lee (Mia), Ben Mabberly (Tex) George Maguire (Vincent), Lifford David Shillingford (Marsellus), Anton Stephans (Jules), Katie Tonkinson (Sadie) and Alexander Zane (Clarence).
Whilst the actors are credited for certain characters, they all play a variety of characters, with Maëva also playing Shoshanna alongside Fabienne and Tara playing both Mia and The Bride. This can make it a little hard to follow at times if you’re not an avid Tarantino movie buff, and that is the only reason this production isn’t 5 stars. Some charm comes from quick costume changes and fleeting storylines, but more performers would be beneficial. It must be noted that this performance was two actors down, so with a full cast this opinion may be changed.
There are no standout roles in this production because everyone really is that good. Every time it might seem like someone is claiming the limelight, another steals the spot in this harmonious transfer of attention boomeranging between the cast. However, props must go to Samara Casteallo for covering the role of Jackie for the first time in this show and absolutely smashing it out of the park.
Alongside the main band, George Maguire and James Byous wow the audience with outstanding performing prowess with their own electric and acoustic guitar solos.
Maguire’s entrance with a killer guitar solo remains a firm favourite scene in the show.
Alongside this scene are scenes were Shoshanna and Butterfly enact revenge on their tormentors, with Butterfly giving a bloody lap dance, and Shoshanna setting a theatre full of Nazis on fire.
The studio itself feels like an industrial back lot, with scaffolding everywhere and a bare-bone set, which leans perfectly into the Tarantino multiverse. This simple set means that flitting between different movies can be done seamlessly with some props and the large screen background – instead of trying to do a complete set overhaul for each change. It’s a smart move done well by designer Matthew Steinbrenner.
Alongside the main stage, the set features a catwalk through the table area, walkways around the perimeter and the live band jutting out either side above the stage, though the actors very rarely stick to one spot very long, from shoot-outs to samurai sword fights, the actors twist and turn through the crowd at every opportunity to create one of the most immersive pieces of theatre out there. Even with extravagant fight scenes happening onstage, other cast will be prowling through the audience to really drive the tension through the roof.
No audience member is safe from being winked at, smirked at, or perhaps having a gun pointed at, that’s the risk you take.
With hits like California Dreamin, Street Life, Django and more, this production takes all of the cult-favourite tracks from Tarantino’s movies and crams them into an over-the-top production overflowing with talent.
One stand out track is Hooked on a Feelin’ with the cast all chanting the opening with eerie precision more than once within the show.
Part concert, part scare show, part Magic Mike production, this performance really has all you could ever want and more with Tarantino as the influence.
There isn’t a bad seat in the house for this production, in fact it is one of those shows that draws repeat watchers to experience different seating areas.
It is one of the most chaotic and batshit crazy shows out there, yet it works incredibly well, it knows its target audience and exceeds their every expectation.
Tarantino fan or not, if you love rock and roll and action, this production is for you.
Runs until 13th August, www.tarantinolive.com/london
Reviewer: Ely King
Reviewed: 28th June 2023
North West End UK Rating: