Heathers review: This revenge-fantasy musical simmers with wicked talent ★★★

The musical of the cult teen 1989 film is a joyful satire- but it could be darker

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Bullying, suicide, body-shaming, mass school shooting – Heathers was the edgy, deliciously dark teen film still beloved for how spot-on it was about the social nightmare of teenage life. Winona Ryder played Veronica, who gets in with a popular, sinister clique at her school. Soon she and her new psychopathic boyfriend (Christian Slater) are exacting revenge on the clique not by calling them mean names but by, well, murdering them.

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This musical at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, is daring, bold and funny, with Carrie Hope Fletcher’s Veronica full of life-affirming energy – and a spine-tinglingly powerful voice. Her Baudelaire-quoting troubled boyfriend is played by Jamie Muscato who sings so beautifully that you can see why Veronica sticks with him even after he starts killing her peers.

The songs are witty  – ‘Dead Girl Walking’, ‘I am damaged’, ‘my dead gay son’ – and the ballads are searing and sweet, but the musical isn’t memorable. You won’t find yourself humming the songs after you leave. The stand-out star of the entire night is Jodie Steele, who plays the terrifying Heather, the ruler of the clique. She is hilariously cruel, cocking her hip and staring down anyone not worthy of being within an inch of her. The world is her catwalk.

Heathers is huge fun, and the audience was whooping, clapping and roaring with laughter throughout. I just wish it had just been a bit darker, a bit edgier and a little more disconcerting – it toyed with shocking us, but didn’t quite get there. But even if it lacked a bit of the bite in the original film, Heathers is worth seeing for its slickness, creativity and stunning talent.

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Heathers is on at Theatre Royal Haymarket until 24 November