Stocky vampire in zebra skin pimp coat seeks Belfast bride for necking and more
You can’t seem to get away from the undead these days. If it’s not sparkling vampires at the movies it’s unreliable ones in the theatre or vampires that rock at the Waterfront. Baron von Rockula, his scantily clad band and obscene minion Bosley are seeking a new Queen of Darkness in ‘of all places, Belfast’.
They discover a promising candidate in the sweet, young singer Pandora, who brings her (lunch)Box along. There’s just one problem. The reigning Queen of Darkness, a vampish, latex clad Toyah Wilcox in a succession of bizarre wigs, doesn’t want to be replaced.
The plot is paper-thin, the scenery is well chewed and the Baron a real dead-ringer for... Not love but comedian Omid Djalili.
It’s hardly Puccini, it’s not even High School Musical, but who cares when the black leather-clad vampires are gleefully vamping their way through a series of power rock anthems from the big hair era?
Not the audience in the Waterfront that’s for sure. Goths in leather and lace sit knee and shoulder with gentlemen in jumpers. The latter are easy meat for Baron von Rockula: ‘Is it the jumper that stops you lifting your arms? Who the f**k wears jumpers anyhow?’
The encouragement works. By the second half everyone is on their feet roaring out the chorus to ‘Bat out of Hell’ by Meatloaf.
That’s the key to the show. Not really a musical, it’s a cover band concert with a bit of comedy thrown in to give everyone time to change costume backstage. Take it on those terms and it’s brilliant. The band and back-up singers are excellent and throw themselves enthusiastically into their OTT roles.
No matter where you look on stage there is always something going on, whether it’s the gyrating dancers, the jingling von Rockula (sporting chainmail cod) or the bare-chested, KISS make-up wearing musicians mugging for the crowd.
Stephen Steinman is a great mixture of menace and humour as the murderous but put upon von Rockula. He aspires to the dark charisma of Dracula, but is constantly undermined by the antics of his perverse manservant and mad wife.
Speaking of his mad wife, Wilcox seems to take immense delight in her role as the brittle, defensive Queen of Darkness. Desperate to retain her husband’s favour she dons a succession of increasingly bizarre outfits and performs violently athletic dance routines.
Does she win in the end? Probably. It’s all gotten a little confused by then and nobody is sure. It doesn’t matter. The audience is up and down and singing along. When Stephen Steinman says he’ll be back with his new show Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom they cheer happily.
Pandora’s (lunch)Box never does make a reappearance. Chekhov would not have approved.