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Review | Eugenius | Turbine Theatre | 25/03/2023

Eugenius premiered as a staged concert back in 2016, before having two fully staged runs at The Other Palace in 2018. It has now been reworked and revived at The Turbine Theatre under the direction of Hannah Chissick.

Unlike the trend for many new musicals to be jukebox, Eugenius has its own unique score with Book, Music and Lyrics by Ben Adams & Chris Wilkins. The show opens with the utterly hilarious Tough Man, which sets the tongue-in-cheek tone for the rest of the show. Tough Man (Dominic Andersen) is a comic book character created by protagonist Eugene (Elliott Evans), who throughout the show sees his characters brought to life in Hollywood!

This comic book theme is followed through impeccably by Andrew Exeter’s innovative set design, which uses various video screens framed as pieces of comic strip. These wonderfully bring scenes alive with pop art style backdrops adorning the screens. This helps ensure we don’t need an abundance of set pieces, which would quickly up the intimate Turbine stage. Instead boxes decorated as piles of comic books work hard in representing various props.

Eugene is played wonderfully with hopeful boyishness by Elliot Evans. He is supported by onstage best friends Janey (Jaina Brock-Patel) and Feris (James Hameed). Both work hard throughout to get the audience going; from Feris handing out business cards, to Janey giving audience members superhero masks to wear mid-song. Eugenius carefully treads the line between involving the audience, without needlessly trying to make it immersive or awkward.

The three meet Hollywood exec Lex Logan (Lara Denning) who is played with a ‘camp as Christmas’ charm. Characters are often played purposely over-the-top, which suits the genre perfectly. A particular stand out to this effect was Joseph Beach as Evil Lord Hector

With 80’s references liberally littered throughout, alongside the odd musical theatre nod; Eugenius certainly knows its audience! Younger audiences however will be won over by this playfully entertaining musical, despite the throwback references potentially going over their heads. There will be no awards for guessing which actor Tough Man is light-heartedly based on!

Like the general aesthetic and costuming, the music is undeniably 80’s, whilst remaining varied and current. This show is an absolute bopathon and is perhaps is where the show shines strongest. Highlights include Maddison Firth’s rocky ‘Hands Up’, reference galore ‘Hollywood’ and of course the anthem that is ‘Go Eugenius.’ The music is backed by Aaron Renfree’s fun choreography. Without needing to teach the audience a single move, Renfree ensures that the audience dance along faultlessly with the cast for the closing number without even being asked.

Eugenius is the ultimate comic book musical. Put quite simply, Be More Chill walked so Eugenius could run! This is not a show to miss and plays at The Turbine Theatre until 28/05/2023. Please see below for booking information:

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Note: My ticket was bought. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.


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