This is a visually stunning piece of musical theatre, and the band and chorus were of a very, very high standard. Amongst the principles there were some real stars too – if the talent of those on stage were the only criteria, this would have scored an easy 5* for me. The atmosphere, dancing and vocals were far better than many of the touring companies we’ve seen at the playhouse. There are some really excellent songs in there, and the energy of everyone on stage really engaged me.
The plot is based loosely on The Picture of Dorian Gray, but there is a secondary subplot about a drug-death that doesn’t really sit comfortably with the main plot. In fact, it’s almost like watching two shows interleaved. I wonder if this was written as a full musical, and something has been lost in the edit down to 1-hour format?
The other problem is the sound. It was terrible, and as someone who has run sound for a lot of shows over the years I feel qualified to comment. The Korg synth made some gorgeous sounds, but was far too loud most of the time. The chorus weren’t miked up and didn’t need to be – they had plenty of vocal punch. The pinciples were miked but either the mics were badly placed (I don’t know if they have changed design since I last handled this kit but they didn’t look right to me) or the mix was bad or both. Half the time I could hear more of the principles direct (we were in the second row) than through the PA. Of course the principles were expecting the PA to do some of the work for them and the ensemble were expecting to be competing with the PA, so at times the principles got a bit lost. Other reviewers (from earlier in the run) have said the principles were hard to hear too, but I’m pretty sure that it’s a technical issue rather than a talent one.
The cast spent a fair bit of time playing so far forward on the stage they were out of the light, which was a little distracting.
A 5* company let down by 1* technical and a 3* script, but the energy and talent still gets it a 4* overall from me.
Facehunters is a musical based around The Picture of Dorian Gray, that takes the piss out of pretentious arseholes and comments on the nature of youth, beauty, friendship and love. The singing and dancing were excellent, at least as good as many of the touring professional musicals we get at the Edinburgh Playhouse. It was extremely aesthetic, with lovely costumes and makeup. Funny in places, and extremely dark in others. The show had two sub-plots which never really came together, and it was let down by some dodgy sound management meaning you could not always hear the leads properly. Overall very good though.