Zach & Viggo + Thumpasaurus @ Underbelly Cowgate
Where Does the Love Go? is a "punk-opera" which is ambitious but confused
Where Does the Love Go? opens with Thumpasaurus pounding out the catchy lead song and an accompanying dance which seems superbly choreographed. It's a dance that captures the robotic-style movements of our future digital assistants, or perhaps a marionette.
This punk-opera does seem to be paying some sort of homage to Pinocchio in the relationship between Alexo and Dr Geppeto, made clear by the latter sharing a name with the classic tale's woodcarver.
Alexo is played by Zach Zucker and Geppeto, tonight, by understudy Dylan Woodley rather than Viggo Venn. Remarkably, it's Woodley's first time on stage and it's an assured performance that does both him and Zucker great credit. Aside from the performances, however, quite what story is being told is sometimes unclear.
It's written by Zucker and Thumpasuarus' Lucas Tamaren, with the band adding live music. The premise is that Amazon's Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have fought a space war. Bezos has been triumphant and is now some sort of galactic overlord. Meanwhile, Alexo is the hero who must question his role in the world beyond being a digital assistant, attempt to escape and then control his destiny.
While it conforms to this classic kind of plot, beyond the opening song the whole thing runs into what script editors call 'Act II problems'.
Alexo's flight, which acts as the plot's catalyst, happens before his character has been bedded down – so it's difficult to care or find his journey credible from the off. Although any scenes involving Zach & Viggo's director, Jonny Woolley, bring a buoyancy to the dialogue. He rather steals the show playing Bezos with a track-suited mafia performance.
The show relies too heavily on repetition for its comedy. Zucker's acknowledgement of the audience is distracting, like some old ham tipping a wink at the crowd as he mimes through the fourth wall. (Although some of this might be due to some improvising because of the last minute cast change).
The bar scene also gets bogged down in a similarly repetitive joke about the ambience. Again, Woolley is the counterpoint, seeming to know how to time repetition right when telling Alexo exactly who he is in a later stand-off.
Perhaps the script is all meant to be so anarchic that we're seeing structural problems where there is meant to be chaos. Maybe. But it's an admirably ambitious production at the top of the show and that makes it hard to ignore that the high energy funk-opera offered to us, unfortunately, descends into something like a promising, if disorganised, school production.
Zach & Viggo and Thumpasaurus: Where did the Love Go?, Underbelly Cowgate (Belly Button), until 26 Aug, 9.20pm, £11-12
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Our original review was edited after publication to reflect the change in cast members