RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET
by Bob Carlton
A brief history of telegenesis:
TELE (prefix), at a distance and
GENESIS (noun) creation, origin or beginning
Telelgenesis, was an attempt by Prospero Laboratories to create matter, both good and evil, from brainpower alone, including using bio-chemical or mechanical sources.
Although partially successful, such research would remain in the realms of cheap, pulp science fiction, until Doctor Prospero, the founder of the laboratories, could find a method of opening up the nine tenths of the brain never used by the average human being – the X factor.
The search for the missing X factor continued, until on a stormy night in the winter of 2009, mad scientist Doctor Prospero, aided by his scheming wife Gloria, worked late into the night in his laboratory to develop the elusive formula with which he would change the world. Gloria, jealous of her husband’s success, overpowered him and sent him into hyperspace in an old shuttlecraft. Unknown to Gloria her infant daughter Miranda slumbered peacefully in the craft. Both of them were catapulted light years into the future. The entire project was closed down and all existing material destroyed by governmental order.
Fifteen years later, a routine survey flight, under the command of chisel-jawed Captain Tempest, leaves the earth’s orbit with a new Science Officer aboard – a hard and bitter woman.
The story of telegenesis would have ended but for Captain Tempest and his crew.
Originally from Birmingham, Michael’s life as an entertainer started in the ring as a professional kick-boxer. He also trained as a dancer at The Midlands Arts Centre. He attended class at Birmingham’s School of Speech and Drama. Not fulfilled enough Michael accepted a place at The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, graduating in 1993. In 1996 Michael took three years out when he got heavily involved in the pop business, playing the bass guitar in a band called ‘Pool’. After various single releases, an album launch and a UK tour, including television appearances the dream started to fade and Michael’s love of the stage forced him to quit the band.
Stage appearances include: Blandon Grey in ‘The Play’ (Baron’s Court Theatre), Prince in ‘The Seven Dwarfs’, T.I.E. Tour, Lysander, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (Worthing, Open Air), Jim, ‘The Absence of Clocks’, (Chat’s Palace, Hackney), ‘Gillette Man’ (a one man show at The Bird’s Nest Theatre, Deptford), Marquis De Mascerille, ‘Two Precious Maidens Ridiculed’ (The King’s Head), Chorus, ‘Angels from America’, (The Shaftesbury Theatre), Will Parker, Understudy, ‘Oklahoma’ (No.1 UK Tour), Dancer / Singer, ‘Dick Whittington’, (Fairfield Halls, Croydon) and Phil in Godber’s Up ‘n’ Under (Tour). Film and Television include: Jed, ‘The Blindspot’ (Avalon Motion Pictures), Peter, ‘Ich Liebe Dich’ (Firebird Productions), Henry Wooton, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ (SF Envy Films), Benny, ‘Friends Like These’ (SF by Rodney Beckford), Mr Johnson, ‘One Cup of Coffee’ (SF, Firebird Productions), David, ‘The Organ Donor’ (Student Film), 50’s Teenager, Dennis Potter’s ‘Karaoke’ (BBC1 / Channel 4) and ‘The Bill’ (ITV).
GOODNESS Gracious, Great Balls of Fire! Christmas showtime again at the Gatehouse – a happening that never fails to surprise and delight. By some miracle and an immense amount of inventive professionalism, enthusiasm and sheer hard graft, this tiny 100-seat venue manages to create an atmosphere to equal any West End theatre with the additional intimacy afforded by the proximity of the audience. The show is adapted from a 1956 sci-fi movie loosely based on The Tempest.
Bob Carlton’s adaptation is spoofed up with sufficient lines plucked willy-nilly from any old Shakespeare play to produce chuckles of recognition from the audience. “Never was a story of more woe than that of Miranda and her Prospero”. In addition, popular songs from the 50s and 60s turn it into a rip-roaring rock ‘n’ roll musical event.
Dr Prospero, a scientific genius who is working on telegenesis (the creative power of thought), is usurped by his jealous wife Gloria who exiles him to space along with his baby daughter Miranda. Sixteen years later, with the help of his faithful roller-blading robot Ariel, he summons up a tempest and shipwrecks a passing space shuttle.
The entire crew is “All Shook Up” and as they “Shake Rattle and Roll”, the Ship’s Captain, a truly decent comic-book hero, complete with moustache and pipe firmly clenched between his teeth, falls in love with Miranda, thus paving the way for further classics like Teenager in Love, Young Girl and Good Vibrations.
This hugely talented cast under the direction of John Plews are required not only to sing, dance and speak verse but to perform on a variety of musical instruments. Forbidden Planet won an Olivier award in 1990 and the author should be proud of this energetic revival with its futuristic set, its technical expertise and full-throated harmonies.
Recommended for rockers and Shakespeare buffs.
This is a gloriously daft, joyful
and entertaining treat of a festive show from that constantly creative
powerhouse of the
Miranda, sweetly played by Kate
Buxton reminiscent of
But hark, what light on yonder computer screen breaks? Is that a beep flitting across it, or perhaps two? The navigation officer isn’t sure. All together now: ‘Two beeps or not two beeps, that is the question…’. The show abounds in Shakespeare quotations to fit the occasion and plenty of Trekkie jokes too – and the thing is, you can’t help but laugh. Plenty of rhyming couplets in the style of Shakespeare but with 21st century rhymes, including many from Angela Rippon who makes her appearance on video as ye olde newscaster and narrator.
The show is directed and produced
by husband-and-wife team
If you are feeling jaded and in
need of a post-New Year tonic, this is just the ticket. All that remains is to
state that ancient Vulcan valediction –
The set of Return to the Forbidden Planet looks like an episode of Star Trek, except for the drum kit on a platform above the stage and the saxophones and trumpet hanging on hooks. The instruments, incongruous amongst the control panels and screens, give some idea of the rollercoaster ride through music of the fifties and sixties we will be treated to during the next two hours. This musical by Bob Carlton, which fuses rock’n’roll and Shakespeare, was performed in 1983 and is currently being presented by Ovation at the Gatehouse. It uses Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, and the Bard’s linguistic style to tell the story of mad scientist Doctor Prospero, who created a formula called the X factor to enable him to use the nine tenths of the brain never used by the average human,
Return to the Forbidden Planet is a viable alternative to pantomime, with its catchy songs, dances and sense of fun. Whole chunks of plays such as Hamlet and King Lear are used, seemingly verbatim, or altered for comedy effect, but you don’t need to know the Complete Works of Shakespeare to enjoy the show. The actors all play at least two instruments to a high standard, so the musical numbers, with include Good Vibrations and Teenager in Love, are spectacular. Gareth Dylan Smith does a tremendous job with the drumkit, while the rest of the cast wow the audience with saxophones, trumpet, keyboards, guitars, tambourines and singing.
Angela Rippon makes a special guest appearance on screen as a newscaster commenting on the action. Alan Howell dazzles as Ariel the rollerblading robot, while Kate Buxton as Miranda and Rebecca Oliver as Navigation Officer show off their brilliant singing voices. Michael Instone provides Miranda’s love interest as the chisel-jawed Captain Tempest while Cookie (Steven Rathman) and Bosun (Nicholas Sagar) also perform some great duets. Racky Plews deserves special mention for her choreography and vision mixing – creating such energetic dancing in a small space is quite a feat. Brenden Lovett as Doctor Prospero and Cathy McManaman as Gloria really shine. The special effects are spectacular – watch out for the giant green tentacles.
This production demonstrates why it’s such a cult hit.
Bob Carlton’s entertainingly kitsch Olivier Award-winning musical blasts off on yet another flight. Based on the 1956 B-movie Forbidden Planet, which was loosely based on The Tempest, the show is still a glorious parody of Shakespeare and fifties sci-fi films, complete with rock music from that period. Prefiguring, the ‘compilation musical’ Carlton’s selection of song lyrics to fit in with the story is as ingenious as the way he quotes- and misquotes – the Bard.
In designer Katy Tuxford’s spaceship cockpit – a nice homage to low-budget film sets – we see Captain Tempest and his crew aboard the Starship Albatross forced to land on the uncharted planet of D’Illyria by the mad scientist Doctor Prospero, marooned with his daughter Miranda for fifteen years.
Director John Plews makes the most of the show’s tongue in cheek humour and draws accomplished performances from the cast, who not only act, sing and dance but play all the instruments with gusto. Michael Instone’s pipe-smoking Tempest is an amusingly patronising but dim comic book hero. Brenden Lovett’s staring-eyed Prospero is Donald Pleasence on acid, while Cathy McManaman changes seamlessly from cool Science Officer to the vampish Gloria, Kate Buxton’s girlish Miranda turns into a rebellious teenager in love and Alan Howell plays rollerblading Ariel with aplomb. This show definitely has good vibrations.