Review: Re-Animator: The Musical

Edinburgh Festival Fringe until August 27

Herbert West is a medical pioneer… it’s just that his theories are a bit too out there for ‘straight’ medical science…

Based on the well-remembered 1985 cult movie, Re-Animator: The Musical is an almost scene-for-scene adaptation for the stage directed by the movie’s helmer Stuart Gordon. Following successful runs in Los Angeles and New York, the show is now currently drenching Edinburgh Fringe audiences in gore and grue…

The original movie helped launch the career of Jeffrey Combs and it still has a huge cult following, partly due to the insane H. P. Lovecraft-inspired story and the effective pre-CGI animatronic and theatrical effects. Stuart Gordon, who directed both the original movie and this brilliant stage version, has admitted that the switch from screen to stage was simple as the movie used tried-and-tested theatrical techniques for many of its effects.

The biggest name in the cast is George Wendt, Norm of Cheers fame, who plays Dean Halsey, soon to become one of the victims of West’s drive to prove that his re-animation formula can successfully revive the dead (despite all the evidence to the contrary surrounding him, from aggressive undead cats to rampaging zombie corpses).

Featuring inventive use of a single doorway on stage, a lively cast sing and dance their way through a ridiculously gore-drenched tale of medical malpractice. There’s a ‘splash zone’ taking in the first three-to-four rows of the George Square Theatre where only the foolhardy should venture, as they’re likely to be covered in blood, guts and vomit (all suitably fake, of course!)…

It’s a wild ride and makes for a great piece of late-night theatre, especially if the audience features one of two Re-Animator fans: it would take a real curmudgeon not to get caught up in the hilarious spoofing of B-movie tropes and musical theatre.

Verdict: The blood, sweat and tears show… literally!

Re-Animator: The Musical: 8/10

Brian J. Robb

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