The Quentin Dentin Show – Tristan Bates Theatre

Picture: Lidia Crisafulli

The Quentin Dentin Show continues at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London until 29 July.

Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩

This show’s tagline promises the show will be this generation’s Rocky Horror Show, but the premise of the show has more similarities with Richard O’Brien’s less successful sequel, Shock Treatment.

Nat and Keith are just a regular couple: she goes out to work, while he stays at home working on the novel he’s barely started writing.

Neither of them are happy, but just when the pair becomes truly miserable, they find a golden microphone with instructions to sing their dreams into it.

Keith activates the microphone, causing the radio to start crackling and jumping channels, before something very bizarre makes its way into their living room.

Quentin Dentin is a game show host, on a mission to (aggressively) make humans happy. This supernatural character and his two sidekicks promise the couple happiness through odd forms of therapy and musical numbers.

The show (directed by Adam Lenson) is eccentric and quite sinister, but still manages to deliver some very funny lines, including one well-timed reference to running through a field of wheat.

The material is extremely animated (music and lyrics by Henry Carpenter and a book by Carpenter and Tom Crowley), and the cast members keep energy levels high throughout, which seemed all the more impressive when the audience were all fanning themselves with makeshift fans in the immense heat.

The music can often be too loud, drowning out the lyrics, which means some witty lines go unheard. Moreover, the show is so odd that you need to hang on to every word, just to keep track of what’s going on.

There is a Faustian element to the piece as Quentin Dentin asks Nat and Keith to sign a contract before he helps them achieve true happiness.

One of the treatments forces the couple to face harsh truths about themselves, but it’s the end of the show where they’re offered a pill to help them be happy that demonstrates a harsh truth of how willing we are to find quick fixes to our problems.

In this small but strong cast it’s Friend 1 (Freya Tilly) and Friend 2 (Lottie-Daisy Francis) that really catch the eye. It’s hard to be sure what Friend 1 and Friend 2 are meant to be, but they are very much the glue in every scene. From every facial expression to toe-tapping routine, the energetic Tilly and Francis prove captivating to watch.

Luke Lane plays the charming, charismatic and funny Quentin Dentin, but he also succeeds in keeping the character rather sinister and a little frightening at the same time.

Lane boasts powerful vocals which he gets to show off often as he performs almost all the songs in the show.

Shauna Riley (Nat) and Max Panks (Keith) are both excellent actors, but their characters are too shallow to do justice to their talents.

Nat and Keith are thrown into this bizarre world, but the audience doesn’t have any knowledge of their backgrounds and how their relationship has reached this stage.

The songs are good, not entirely memorable, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t performed in an excellent fashion.

Tal Fox

www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk

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