Skid Row is brought to life just metres from the audience in the intimate Chandler Studio Theatre, but the wonderfully expressive performances could easily carry to the back of some stalls. Eyebrows are knotted, gasps are O-shaped and the slapstick goes for broke.
Along with the satire and silliness, there are plenty of fairly obscure US cultural references packed into this show's book and lyrics, which can easily be lost in translation, but the diction here is consistently impressive – even on the odd occasion when the pitch wavers or belting threatens to become blaring.
Will Gosnold makes an endearing Seymour and demonstrates some top-notch puppeteering skills, while Sarah Swire is a ditzy-but-not-dopey Audrey with Marilyn curls and a tremendous lip wobble.
However, it's Philip Atkinson as sadistic dentist Orin who threatens to walk off with the show – and that's even before he ventures forth into the audience to gyrate along to our collective "ahhhs" during his signature song.
His eye-popping session with the laughing gas has strong echoes of American Psycho – thanks to both the actor's resemblance to Christian Bale and his wielding of a nasty-looking power tool – and is so thoroughly enjoyable that it come as a blow when he expires before the end of the song.
Atkinson will be the one to look out for in the company's forthcoming production of Spring Awakening, but in the meantime anyone able to catch this slick and high-energy production is in for a tongue-in-cheek treat.