Return to the Forbidden Planet at The Kings

Jonathan Markwood as Doctor Prospero.
Jonathan Markwood as Doctor Prospero.
Richard Digance

A close encounter puts Richard’s career back on the musical path

  • Return to the Forbidden Planet comes to the Kings Theatre, Southsea from Monday, April 13 to Saturday, April 18
  • The jukebox musical features rock ’n’ roll songs such as Great Balls of Fire
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Part B movie, part Shakespeare play, part Doctor Who spoof, Return to the Forbidden Planet is an unlikely hybrid.

But the jukebox musical has enjoyed longetivity as an audience favourite, prompting the current tour which comes to the Kings Theatre from Monday to Saturday.

Those are always the best parts to play, the character parts. I am playing him like a Doctor Who kind of character

Jonathan Markwood on playing Doctor Prospero

Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the 1956 film Forbidden Planet, the show features stunning special effects, a mad scientist, a green-tentacled monster and a rock ’n’ roller-skating robot.

Heading up the cast is Jonathan Markwood, one of the show’s leads. He plays the mad Doctor Prospero.

‘Oh he’s wonderful, quite bonkers,’ he says. ‘Those are always the best parts to play, the character parts. I am playing him like a Doctor Who kind of character.’

It is the Doctors of Jonathan’s own childhood which have inspired his performance.

‘Everyone’s got their own favourite. When I grew tup there was Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee and they were my two fvaourites. Tom Baker is an influence particularly, because he was off the wall and a bit mad.’

Jonathan adds: ‘I get to sing some wonderful songs, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood and The Monster Mash are two of them.’

The show is packed with rock n’ roll classics, including Great Balls of Fire, This is a Man’s World and Heard It Through the Grapevine.

Jonathan’s character is loosely based on Prospero from The Tempest. He says:

‘He was a scientist working on this new drug called the X Factor, which is a means of making things just by thinking about it. He was working on this with his wife Gloria, who was also his lab assitant.

‘Gloria launches him into space on their spaceship, but unbenknown to her their baby girl is on board.

‘The spaceship crash lands on this planet called D’Illyria and they are marooned there.

‘Over 15 years later he is discovered by a routine scientific survey flight which is headed by Captian Tempest. His daughter is now grown up and he has made a robot called Ariel, and he tells them his story.’

The Return to the Forbidden Planet is a mix of different genres. Jonathan says: ‘It it based on the 50s B-movie which was similar to The Tempest, but it spins that on its head because it also has lots of Shakespeare in it. It also has a bit of 1970’s Doctor Who parody in there too, so there is a lot of collisions of styles.

Jonathan’s personal highlight is working with the cast. ‘It is a very talented group of people. We are actor musicians so all the music is played live onstage. We all play at least three other instruments so we all swap around.’

Tickets: £22-28, call (023) 9282 8282 or visit kingsportsmouth.co.uk