I’m writing this far later than I had planned. I mean, I attended closing night over two weeks ago! But after a knockout run at The Other Palace, I had to discuss what I thought about the cult favourite Eugenius. This is one of the hottest new shows that the theatre community cannot stop talking about, and had an almost unheard of number of sold out shows during its 6 week run. Unfortunately I was busy for most of the run, but I made it to closing night after hearing weeks of raving from the theatre community, and I wanted to throw my thoughts into the ring.
Instead of getting swept up in the hype of Eugenius, I gave myself the chance to go into the show fairly blind – I didn’t listen to the cast recording, I didn’t read up on the plot (other than comments I saw on my twitter feed) and I didn’t read a whole lot of reviews. But I wish I had now. Because Eugenius wasn’t the production it had been built up to be. I find it really difficult to swallow when people see the same show a lot over a very short time frame, which is something that happened with this production. Fair enough, since we knew it was a limited run, however I often feel these people who are singing its praises are the people seeing it through rose-tinted glasses. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen The Book Of Mormon 4 times but that was over 5 years. I’ve been through cast changes!
There are some really catchy songs in the production (Go You Genius has been stuck in my head since I saw the show), and it was a vocally sound production. There were some moments of real humour, but what was lacking was a plot. It was vague and almost non-existent; almost a chance for Ben Adams – who, for your general information, was one of my first crushes (who misses the 90s curtains?) – to showcase these very 80s and 90s inspired songs. The plot didn’t wrap up very succinctly, and I’d have liked more development. I appreciate that the production team took on comments throughout the run and altered parts, but it still needs a little bit more than a fine-tuning to be a long-running production.
Seeing a production on closing night is a very different experience to going at any other time. I learnt this after seeing Half A Sixpence, but at least I’d seen the show on your average Saturday Night. I wasn’t swept up in the love that comes from family, friends and die-hards when it came to closing night for that show – I knew it was a production I genuinely loved. I thoroughly enjoyed Eugenius when I was at the performance, but after mulling it over on my way home I realised that the show left me feeling slighltly flat. Which is actually really disappointing for me as I know so many people loved it. Maybe I missed something? Maybe sitting in a restricted view seat dampened the effect the show had on me – although I sincerely doubt it. I sit in RV all the time.
I don’t doubt that Eugenius will be back; there’s definitely the call for it, but unless the casting is something really special I don’t think I’ll return. But if you want a bit of cheese, a 21st century take on 80s power anthems and have a love for the underdog, this could be the show for you.