A fresh-faced young intern full of dreams and ambitions joins an evil corporation, who want her to abandon her principles. We think we know where this is going; we’ve all seen Wolf of Wall Street, right? But Shellshock! is gloriously impossible to predict, and like an oil drilling-induced earthquake, at the end you won’t know what hit you.
Our hero is Shelley Clarke, a graduate who is hired by GLG, the world’s largest oil and gas company, to improve the company’s image after a couple of disasters. But as she gets to know the CEO and her eccentric lackeys, she starts to realise that behind the pristine blandness of GLG’s corporate world lies some very real and dangerous madness. A madcap tale of double-crossing, incompetent eco-protesters and ancient turtles follows.
Oh yeah and it’s also a musical. Accompanied by just an acoustic guitar, the songs are wry and witty, and range from folk to dancehall to a hip-hop track about turtles which owes a lot to, and even references, Lin-Manuel Miranda (“amphibians – they get the job done!”). The songs add a lot of colour to the show and are used effectively to explore ideas it otherwise might not be able to, such as the standout tune “Humanity is a Cult”. I’m very sad I can’t download this soundtrack anywhere.
Though the plot is confusing, the audience is kept engaged by how funny it is. Shelley, though lacking a little in stage presence, is an effective stooge to the antics of the other characters, and gives the audience something to relate to amongst the chaos. The comic characters are played with exaggerated energy, as if the show is being performed in front of a few friends instead of an audience of strangers. Everyone manages to be likeable without sacrificing the show’s satirical bite. Shellshock! is a wild, inventive, spoons-for-trousers crazy new show that will make you laugh as much as it will make you scratch your head.