REVIEW: The Toxic Avenger, Arts Theatre

Following on from a successful run at the Southwark Playhouse, The Toxic Avenger is back in London to delight audiences once more. 

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This over the top, energetic and highly amusing musical has plenty to offer those who like their musicals with a bit of a quirky charm – but at times feels slightly too reliant on the same jokes over and over again.

Toxie is a mutant creature who sets out to save New Jersey and the world from global warming while trying to win the heart of his beloved Sarah, but pursuing him is the evil Mayor of New Jersey who will go to any lengths to get rid of him. It might not be the most complicated of plots, which has a comic book feel about it – but there are still plenty of laughs to be had along the way.

It has to be said if you want to see The Toxic Avenger for yourself you have to fully prepared to embrace the silly sense of humour and the exaggerated characterisations of some really likeable characters for it to be a entertaining and engaging evening. If you don’t then the numerous jokes directed towards Sarah being blind among other jokes might be lost on you.

However, Benji Sperring’s lively and energetic production never takes itself at all seriously, allowing the audience to be swept into the story easily and to just let go and have fun, helped by a cast who really give their all into making this an entertaining show.

Emma Salvo as the independent but blind Sarah is particularly delightful to watch as she stumbles around the stage with great sense of comic timing as well as powerful vocals. She also has a great natural chemistry with Mark Anderson as Toxie, really making the most of their scenes together that comes across as quite sweet and natural.

Anderson is also very strong vocally as his renditions of ‘You Tore My Heart Out’ and ‘Thank God She’s Blind’ prove, but character wise is still suitably nerdish and heartfelt that makes the character so warm and likeable.

Che Francis and Oscar Conlon-Morrey also deserve a mention for not only the number of increasingly wacky characters they had to play (I particularly enjoyed Conlon-Morrey as the cop) but the speed in which they were able to transform.

Musically, there are some really enjoyable songs to be found in the musical, not least ‘Hot Toxic Love’ and the hilariously choreographed ‘Evil is Hot’, but the script feels as though it has got carried away and is too reliant on jokes about being blind that can make it feel slightly tiresome in places.

But what the show is particularly good at doing is getting the little details right – particularly if you love the theatre, with ‘subtle’ references to the likes of Hamilton and The Phantom of the Opera which add much to the hilarity.

This is a production that is very excitable and over the top, yet it somehow still has quirky charm about it that that manages to win you over.

The Toxic Avenger continues to play at the Arts Theatre until the 3rd December. To book tickets visit: Discount Theatre and UK

Rating: 💚💚💚💚

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