Currently running at Above the Arts Theatre is the latest production of The Quentin Dentin Show. Initially devised & written by Henry Carpenter, this original rock musical has developed over time since its first ever performance at The Rag Factory in 2014 – this production is actually its seventh incarnation.
Keith & Nat are a couple facing serious relationship problems, who agree (although somewhat under duress) to participate in a vague form of therapy offered to them by Quentin Dentin. Who mysteriously appears in their flat & sings a lot, thanks to a magic golden microphone. Unbeknownst to Keith & Nat, Quentin has an ulterior motive for engaging with them: he needs to do something with part of their brains in order to get the “upgrade” he desires.
Whilst the show is obviously a take on the modern belief that there is a cure for everything, including dissatisfaction with life, it does get a little bit lost in the bizarre world created by the show. Who (or what) is Quentin? We never actually find out. And, though I applaud the attempt to not make it an obvious ending, it doesn’t quite resolve itself in a particularly satisfying way. Some of the ‘therapy’ section is also perhaps a little too extended – a lot of scenarios get played out, which is a bit repetitive.
The songs, played by an onstage band (“the Sound Squadron”) are in a spacey 70s style, and also happen to be strangely catchy. For me, the score is the most enjoyable aspect of the show – ‘Lemons’ and ‘Numbers‘ are absolute highlights, and closing the show with ‘All Together Now’ definitely makes you leave the theatre with a smile on your face.
Cleverly, the band are also used for sound effects throughout the show, occasionally in conjunction with some interesting lighting (designed by Lara Davidson). The choreography, by director Caldonia Walton, is quirky & fun – and completely in keeping with the whole style of the piece.
The cast of five are strong, putting in memorable & enjoyable performances from the moment you walk in the door. Felix Denton & Lydia Costello are hilarious & versatile as Friend 1 & 2, even welcoming the audience upon arrival! Shauna Riley is strong as unhappy Nat, and Jamie Tibke is entertainingly dim as Keith.
The eponymous Quentin Dentin is played with aplomb by Luke Lane – starting off like a cheesy game show host, getting ever tetchier & more manic as his plans start to go awry, though remaining charismatic & enigmatic throughout.
My verdict? A quirky night out, with catchy songs & stellar performances – one to keep an eye on in the world of original musicals.
The Quentin Dentin Show runs at Above The Arts Theatre until 28 May 2016. Tickets available online and from the Arts Theatre box office.