Eugenius! review – Mark Hamill is a robot called Kevin in superhero show

3 /5 stars

The Other Palace, London

A school nerd escapes the bullies but meets a murderous movie mogul in an imaginative 1980s-themed musical

Eugenius!

Begs for snarky wit and subversive camp … Eugenius!Photograph: Pamela Raith

Things are looking up for new British musicals. The gorgeous Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a West End hit; the young duo behind Six demonstrated real talent with their all-female show; and now Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins’ 80s-themed musical arrives with the message that even the despised school geek can end up an unlikely superhero. It also comes with voiceover from Star Wars’s Mark Hamill as Kevin the Robot.

Eugene (Liam Forde) is a joke to the cool kids at school. But he has created a comic about a superhero called Tough Man, and when a film producer comes looking for ideas, Eugene is whisked to Hollywood.

But will he overcome the machinations of movie mogul Lex (Cameron Blakely), and realise in time that Tough Man’s story is not a figment of his imagination but true? Tough Man’s nemesis, his nerdy evil twin, Lord Hector (Ian Hughes), is on the set with murder on his mind.

Silly but amiable, Eugenius! is bursting with 80s pop culture references and boasts infectiously poppy pastiche songs.

The Other Palace is designed for new musical tryouts, so Eugenius! is still in minor key: the story requires streamlining, and if it’s going to position itself in the cult musical pantheon between Return to the Forbidden Planet and The Rocky Horror Show, it begs for an injection of snarky wit and subversive camp.

But I’ve spent time with far less engaging superheroes, and this would-be musical whizzkid may yet develop the smarts.

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