Originally created by Tony Award-winning Joe DiPietro and David Bryan, a founding member of Bon Jovi, The Toxic Avenger is the slickest and most put-together show so far seen at this year’s Fringe, geared up and ready to transfer to into the West End’s Arts Theatre.

The story follows Melvin Ferd The Third and his attempt to clean up his New Jersey town of toxic waste. During his attempt, Melvin gets pushed into a vat of toxic goo, which transforms him into super mutant, The Toxic Avenger (Toxie for short). We watch Toxie’s quest to save his town against the vivacious yet corrupt Town Mayor, falling in love with Sarah, the blind librarian, all whilst trying to keep his Mother’s mind at peace.

The plot is just as surreal as the rest of the show – it aspires to the absurd cult late-night musical comedies that come before it, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors. This production also boasts some fantastic comedic songs, such as ‘My Big French Boyfriend’ and ‘Hot Toxic Love’. The musical score is flamboyant and brash, but boasts clever comedic timing and intricate lyrics, performed impeccably by the five-member cast.

The small, tight-knit cast radiate energy and enthusiasm on stage as they alternate rapidly between characters. Particularly impressive is the two-man chorus who occupy so many quick-changes throughout the show, presenting themselves as everything from cops, bullies, therapists, Latina beauticians, Sarah’s slutty (but very masculine) best friends and town citizens.

Mark Anderson reprises his polished Southwark Playhouse lead role as Melvin/ Toxie, with his truly impressive vocals and ability to gain the audience’s sympathy as both nerdy Melvin and hopeless romantic Toxie. Emma Salvo also excels in the role of Sarah, the blind librarian who wins Melvin’s heart and becomes a key to his plot against the Government.

This production has been scaled down from the original for Fringe purposes and so it is somewhat rushed in places where the story needs developing further. Parts are over-emphasised to grab the audience’s humour but occasionally it feels like it’s trying too hard. Natalie Hope performs the song ‘Bitch/ Slut/ Liar/ Whore’, switching between two completely different characters – cue a thousand (impressive but boring) quick changes, leaving an empty stage for upwards of thirty seconds at a time. It’s a little awkward and a bit excessive.

Overall, The Toxic Avenger is a polished show with high production value, a two-tiered set, an expansive score, impressive performances and a whole load of wacky comedy. It provides a great late-night performance for Fringe audiences before it hits the West End.

 

★★★☆☆

The Toxic Avenger plays Pleasance Courtyard Cowgate, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 until 28 August 2017. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.