Horror Shop for Eusog

Jan 21 2024 | By More

Schlock horror not Savoy Opera for student company

This week the Edinburgh University’s Savoy Opera company, Eusog, is swapping G&S for Menken and Ashman, with a production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Church Hill Theatre.

The dip into the schlock horror of a musical based on a Roger Corman low budget movie is part of the company’s annual round of three productions – G&S fans need only wait until April for them to return with Biolanthe, an adaptation of Iolanthe, and then for the Fringe in August.

But for now, it’s down to Skid Row, where Seymour Krelborn, a miserable clerk working in a flower shop, finds a bizarre plant after an unexplained solar eclipse and names it Audrey II, after his lovely and unattainable co-worker.

Seymour (Conor O’Cuinn) and Audrey II (Thaddeus Buttrey). Preview pic: Andrew Perry.

Little Shop of Horrors is a cracking wee musical, composed by Alan Menken in the style of early 1960s rock’n roll, Doo-wop and early Motown. All the way through, Krelborn and Audrey’s interactions with Audrey II, as the plant demands blood and more blood, are narrated by a trio of “street urchins”: Crystall, Ronett and Chiffon.

The show is also well known through some of its more famous numbers, such as Skid Row (Downtown), Somewhere That’s Green, and Suddenly, Seymour. It’s a great show – fast-paced and funny, so it is unsurprising that there have been several productions from local amateur companies in recent years, often hiring the same props to bring Audrey II to life.

hidden depths

If Eusog know the value of comedy, they also understand that even if Corman’s ultra-cheap original played straight to the low budget market (it was reputedly shot over two days and a night), that doesn’t mean there are no hidden depths to Howard Ashman’s book.

“Under the surface, Little Shop of Horrors is a critique of the capitalist mindset and a cautionary tale of giving up your morals in order to achieve fortune and fame,” says co-director Amy Stinton.

“We’ve tried to highlight the tempting lure of wealth through a dazzling and vibrant Audrey II, that soon drops their facade and transforms into an unbearable and scary botanical demon.”

Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon – Gemima Iseka-Bekano, Marie Keinde and Duha Bilal. Preview pic: Andrew Perry.

To do this, the company have had to draw on their own resources, rather than hiring in the standard set and props.

“Audrey II represents an overwhelming and all-consuming force,” continues Stinton. “By grounding the character in a physical performer, who is not confined to the limitations of a puppet, we are able to exemplify this feeling as the plant is able to roam the entire stage.

disturbing physicality

“Our costume and stage teams have worked together to create a vibrant colour palette for the plant, remaining consistent from handheld smaller versions to the final costume and set dressing. These neon colours start as a beacon of hope against the beige backdrop of Skid Row, but quickly become garish and overwhelming as the show progresses and the characters get consumed by Audrey II’s forces.

“We have really enjoyed working with Thaddeus Buttrey, who plays Audrey II, to create a disturbing physicality to the character, which allows for this growth emotionally as well as physically.”

Audrey (Allison Lavercombe). Preview pic: Andrew Perry.

Nor is the company wedded to the classic portrayal of the human characters, built as they are on those created with a 1960s mindset, as Stinton’s co-director Tom Beazley points out: “we were keen to create a variety of engaging characters through which the audiences can experience the story.

“In particular, we were excited to reimagine the character of Audrey as an intelligent and empathetic voice who does not falter under the insanity around her.

intelligence and sadness

“The situation that we find Audrey in at the start of the show is extremely serious, but traditional portrayals often undermine this by portraying Audrey as ditsy and irrational. By emphasising both her intelligence and sadness, it respects the seriousness of the abusive and damaging situation she’s in, rather than playing it off for laughs.

“We wanted Audrey to act as the rational voice throughout the show, which not only makes her a more engaging character, but makes the ending of the show all the more tragic.”


Little Shop of Horrors
Church Hill Theatre, 33 Morningside Road, EH10 4DR.
Tue 23 – Sat 27 Jan 2024.

Evenings: 7.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.


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