Having already developed a somewhat cult status, The Quentin Dentin Show is back in London, bursting out of a radio and on to the stage of the Tristan Bates Theatre, wackier than ever. Written by Henry Carpenter and directed by Adam Lenson, science fiction meets musical theatre in the most unexpected way.
Nat and Keith are an average couple with average problems. While Keith insists everything is fine, unemployed and writing a novel, Nat, the breadwinner is less than convinced and yearning for more. The discovery of mysterious golden microphone, to sing your dreams to, leads to the arrival of Quentin Dentin. He’s a kind of guardian angel come other worldly synthetic, tasked with signing mortals up to ‘the programme’ so that he can receive an upgrade.
If that sounds far-out, it gets even more outlandish. The rest of the show is essentially Quentin Dentin, in full game show host mode, putting the couple through a series of tasks, such as the blame game, to help them achieve their dreams. But the message behind this kooky musical is that not all our dreams are right for us, and even if we achieve them, we probably still won’t be happy.
Despite that rather glum premise, the majority of the musical numbers are catchy little tunes that get the toes tapping. There’s a song about lemons and another about numbers, they have vague relationships to the story but are essentially comedy numbers. The band sit on stage and provide most of the sound effects as well as the music. There’s also some rather impressive footwork thanks to choreographer and co-director Caldonia Walton.
Playing Quentin Dentin, Luke Lane displays this delicious personality that’s just smarmy enough to still be endearing. Like a living caricature, he plays on the characters non-human features to highlight what it is to be human.
Shauna Riley, as Nat, and Max Panks, as Keith, play it straight; reacting as any average couple would, if a cross between Sheldon Cooper and Richard O’Brien exploded out of their radio set. Thanks to them the whole thing doesn’t feel ridiculous, it’s because they are as bemused as the audience that we can connect with the eccentric plot.
There are some moments of comedy wonder, Quentins entrance following his upgrade for example, while other jokes fall a little flat. Over its several productions the show has been extended and you can sometimes see the additions as fillers. Overall, The Quentin Dentin Show is a funny, toe tapping musical with a difference, helped along immensely by the lead cast.
If you’re in need of a little escapism or light relief, and in the absence of a golden microphone to tell your dreams to, a ticket for this show will definitely lift your spirits.
Photos courtesy of Lidia Crisafulli.