We Will Rock You review: Ridiculous, bombastic - everything it needed to be

WE WILL ROCK YOU by Elton, , Book by Ben Elton, Music & Lyrics by Queen, Directed by C

WE WILL ROCK YOU by Elton, Book by Ben Elton, Music & Lyrics by Queen, Directed by Cornelus Baltus, UK tour, Portsmouth, Kings Theatre, UK, 2022, Credit: Johan Persson/ - Credit: Johan Persson

Sometimes when attending the theatre you hope for a certain degree of subtlety.

We Will Rock You, Ben Elton's long-running jukebox musical based around the songs of Queen has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

But while subtle it is not, why would you ever want it to be?

WE WILL ROCK YOU by Elton, , Book by Ben Elton, Music & Lyrics by Queen, Directed by C

The cast of We Will Rock You - Credit: Johan Persson

The musical, which opened on the West End 20 years ago, is bombastic, over-the-top, camp, in-your-face and utterly, utterly, ridiculous. Frankly, everything you could possibly ask for when it comes to Queen.

Its storyline is, in all honesty, stupid. Set in a dystopian future on iPlanet, formerly known as Earth, the human race is enslaved by a giant corporation called Globalsoft, which has wiped rock 'n' roll from the face of existence.

However, a select few - known as the Bohemians - can remember the likes of The Beatles, Elvis Presley and - of course - Queen. 

It is then up to two rebels - named Galileo Figaro and Scaramouche (no, really) - to lead an uprising, cross the Seven Seas of Rye to the land of champions and save rock 'n' roll once and for all. What was that I said about subtlety?

WE WILL ROCK YOU by Elton, , Book by Ben Elton, Music & Lyrics by Queen, Directed by C

We Will Rock You is in Norwich this week as part of its national tour Credit: Johan Persson - Credit: Johan Persson

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But while its story is built around cliche after cliche, the spectacle is everything it needed to be.

The biggest challenge for any reproduction of Queen music is to find a way of filling the enormous shoes of the incomparable Freddie Mercury.

However, not one member of the 24-strong cast fell short of bringing the songs to life.

WE WILL ROCK YOU by Elton, , Book by Ben Elton, Music & Lyrics by Queen, Directed by C

We Will Rock You is running at Norwich Theatre Royal until Saturday, June 25, Credit: Johan Persson - Credit: Johan Persson

No less so than female lead Scaramouche, played by Notre Dame Sixth Form alumni Anna Davey, the tour's understudy - although nobody would have noticed it - who took the show away in her pocket with her transcendent vocal range and hugely likable presence.

Former Notre Dame student Anna Davey, who stole the show in We Will Rock You as female lead Scaramouche

Former Notre Dame student Anna Davey, who stole the show in We Will Rock You as female lead Scaramouche - Credit: Yellow Belly Photo

Highlights include an emotionally charged duet of Who Wants to Live Forever, a headbanging rendition of Hammer to Fall and, of course, the moment the Bohemians find their Rhapsody - saved cheekily until after the final curtain call.

And while all the big hits were there, for this Queen fan, Easter eggs in the form of nods to album tracks like Death on Two Legs were just the ticket.

It was bonkers, full of pomp, outrageous, cheesy, cringy in parts, hilarious in others and absolutely everything a Queen musical should have been.