"the next Rocky Horror but with bigger synths"

"bursting with 80s pop culture"
-The Guardian-

"relentlessly high energy"

Sorry, Eugenius! closed on 21 Oct 2018

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"Celebrates geek and comic-book culture"

Critic Rating

5 September 2018, The Other Palace
Guest Reviewer Guest Reviewer
Credit where credit is due. For a brand new musical, Eugenius! has managed the seriously impressive feat of finding itself a hugely enthusiastic cult audience, one that clamoured for a return after a run at The Other Palace earlier this year, and who have now been rewarded with a slightly retooled, slightly recast version of their brand new fave. Seriously, these are fans that have not just learnt the words but the choreography, and that’s awesome devotion to be inspiring.

In some respects, you can see why. Ben Adams and Chris Wilkin’s musical taps into the endless fondness for 80's nostalgia, celebrates geek and comic-book culture and is full of hugely winning performances. Rob Houchen’s Eugene finds a route out of high school drudgery when his sci-fi cartoons win a competition to be turned into a Hollywood blockbuster. And with best friends Feris (a pneumatic Daniel Buckley) and Janey (a too-good Laura Baldwin), he gets to see his Tough Man superhero turned into real life, literally, so as the case turns out to be.

But in delving so deeply into the stereotypes of the era, Eugenius! does nothing to subvert the attitudes of the 80's, to address its more troubling aspects which still permeate society today. Look over there – a highly camp creative type swishing about! And over here – a dumb blonde actress given nothing to say! And my – look at all these 80's pop culture figures that Eugene loves, every single one of them male. You might say why take it so seriously – I’d say take a look at the reaction to The Last Jedi and the treatment its star Kelly Marie Tran received from so-called fans of the franchise.

To not even interrogate any of this one iota feels unforgivable in a musical written in this day and age. And looking down the list of creatives to find only one woman (set and costume designer Hannah Wolfe) makes me wonder if this lack of diversity might have something to do with it.

Musically, Eugenius! is effectively done with at least one refrain that will remain naggingly in your brain. And Ian Talbot’s direction and Aaron Renfree’s choreography bring a relentless energy to proceedings. But it all just feels a little bit hollow - even mindless entertainment has to bear some kind of responsibility.

Reviewed by Ian Foster.

Eugenius and euphoria share the same first two letters: just saying. It's a life-enhancing triumph, and I suspect it'll be around a lot longer than this limited season.
Lyn Gardner
Silly but amiable, Eugenius! is bursting with 80s pop culture references and boasts infectiously poppy pastiche songs.
But strong performances and a stronger soundtrack just about blast those qualms away: holy superlatives, it’s a lot of fun.