We Will Rock You breaks are still tremendously popular but why? It has been going for 11 years at the Dominion Theatre and is still putting bums on seats. That is over 4,000 performances! This show is just one of those perennial favourites that appeals to a very wide audience. You don’t even have to be a fan of Queen to enjoy it, although it probably helps. The funny thing about music is that the stuff that was around when you were young somehow becomes good, even though it might not have been your taste at the time. We catch a sort of nostalgia for it, as it can conjure up our lost youth. Noel Coward said it best when he had a character remark: “Strange how potent cheap music is.” (Private Lives) That is a slightly snobby way of putting it but he definitely had something there. I wouldn’t have been seen dead listening to Abba in my late teens/twenties but I adore Mamma Mia! and happily bop around to Dancing Queen. We Will Rock You has a similar effect. It is the power of the familiar, I think. This music was the soundtrack to an era, the much maligned late 1970s/early 80s. If you were alive then the music of We Will Rock You will speak to you. Songs like Radio Gaga or Bohemian Rhapsody are so engrained in our musical culture that we cannot help but enjoy them.
The story has a slightly flimsy, whimsical plot but it is witty and fun. Set in the far future the joy of many of the jokes centre around the strange misunderstandings that have grown up around the heroes of rock. It is a lot of fun and as the book (plot) was written by Ben Elton there are some real laugh out loud moment. I won’t spoil any of the jokes but there are some good ones! Just remember that recent(ish!) song about being a punk rocker with flowers in your hair and you’ll get the idea! The jokes are funniest when they show a total disregard for things as they really were.
The show is great to look at too with excellent costumes and sets, in a ‘Mad Maxish’ sort of way. There’s definitely been some Tina Turner influence in the design of The Killer Queen’s outfit!
Of course it is the music that really gets the audience going. As the familiar drum beat of We Will Rock You echoes through the theatre the atmosphere changes and before you know it everyone is joining in clapping and stamping their feet. And that is, I suppose part of the magic of the show.
It just sweeps you along, your disbelief totally suspended, so that it doesn’t matter if the plot is a bit silly at times. It is a lot like being at a big concert and the performances that work best are the ones where people really get into that mood. By the end everyone is on their feet, clapping to the beat with their arms raised. I can’t have been the only one who had an almost overwhelming urge to get out a cigarette lighter and hold it aloft! (Note – I haven’t smoked for over 25 years! 😉 ) Here they are back in 2009 at West End Live – they always put on a tremendous show for that:
You cannot go and see the real Queen and Freddie Mercury in concert any more so We Will Rock You sort of fills that gap. We all saw the amazing bit in the otherwise dire closing ceremony of the Olympics where Freddie seemed to be back with us, interacting with the audience. Well, maybe one day, the technology that did that will be perfected to the point that we can actually see him ‘live’ on stage again. (That’s a whole other blog post!) Until then a show like We Will Rock You provides the next best thing. It is an ideal choice for a theatre break, giving you a real ‘feel good’ musical experience. There are lots of choices on our Readers Offer site – just click through to see what’s available.