By: Wendy Sheard, TRP Reviewer
Heathers, an energetic and compelling musical, takes the audience back to their school days. Based on the 1988 cult movie, it’s bright, bold and brash. A coming-of-age story which challenges and delights in equal measure. An uplifting and heart-breaking roller coaster of emotions; be prepared to experience the lowest of lows and the highest of highs throughout this attention grabbing musical.
Relationships, sexuality, and conforming are carefully explored using the all American Westerberg High School as the backdrop. It is in this a pressure cooker of an environment where we meet Veronica, our conflicted heroine, who desperately wants to be accepted by the beautiful and bullying group of ‘Heathers’, so much so, she turns her back on her lifelong friend Martha, with devastating results. Her story continues to unfold when she is captivated by JD, the new and mysterious boy in school who wins her heart. Then everything escalates, situations quickly becoming out of control, with terrible and catastrophic consequences.
There is never a dull moment; school bells, gunshots and explosions combine with strobe lighting and flashing lights. Music brings the exuberance of youth to life, the lyrics are clever, funny, maybe a little bit rude and possibly offensive to some but it is all in context and not just to shock. The stagecraft and ingenious use of props is a highlight, torches, croquet mallets and even cafeteria trays are used to great effect.
Witty and humorous one liners are peppered throughout the script which provide relief to the raw and hard-hitting themes of suicide, sexual violence and intimidation which may not be to everyone’s taste.
It is a study of contradictions; slapstick comedy sits alongside disconcerting moments which repel and disturb. The feeling of being back at school with the hierarchies of the cool, the nerdy, the beautiful and the boring is evident and palpable from the very beginning of this challenging and thought provoking production.
Heathers is a bit like a layer cake; you may not enjoy each individual layer but overall it’s a confection of delight! Give it a try.