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Mark Fisher
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Follow me on Twitter at MarkFFisher, WriteAboutTheat and LimelightXTC I am a freelance journalist and critic specialising in theatre and the arts. Publications I write for include the Guardian and the Scotsman. I am the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide: how to make your show a success and How to Write About Theatre: A Manual for Critics, Students and Bloggers. I am also editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls: A Limelight Anthology. From 2000-2003, I was the editor of The List magazine, Glasgow and Edinburgh's arts and events guide.
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Friday, July 12, 2013

Cannibal Women of Mars, theatre review

Published in the Guardian

Tron, Glasgow
Three stars

It's 100 years hence and things are looking pretty grim on planet Earth. Unemployment has exceeded 90% and government robots are around every corner. Worse, in this dystopian opposite of Brave New World, sex has been outlawed. For randy virgins Largs and Jaxxon, a trip on the "Mars sex, sex, sex flight" to a colony of space women is too tempting to resist. After their three-month trip, however, they discover the Martian women are less interested in their bodies than their flesh.

It's a suitably daft premise for a B-movie pastiche in the mould of Return to the Forbidden Planet. Written by Belle and Sebastian's Mick Cooke with Gordon Davidson and Alan Wilkinson, Cannibal Women of Mars is a musical romp with no pretentions to weightiness. The closest thing to a show-stopper is a rock ballad  that goes: "I don't want to eat you, I want to love you instead."

For all its air of joviality, however, Cannibal Women of Mars underperforms in two ways. First is in the low level of laughs. With such a flimsy story and no attempt at psychological realism, the script calls out for more jokes to paper over the cracks. In Andy Arnold's spirited production, it's always cheery, but rarely funny.

Second is in its uncertain attitude to the B-movie form. Although actor Gavin Mitchell does a game job with his repertoire of gentleman baddies, low-life conmen and Germanic scientists, the show itself is neither a homage nor a send-up of the 50s world of ray guns and mutant monsters it inhabits. It's almost as if we're expected to take the preposterous plot at face value. Even if it's short on purpose, however, the pace is kept up by Cooke's songs, a melange of pop styles ranging from lounge jazz to blaxploitation funk, creating a harmlessly enjoyable evening.

©Mark Fisher

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