Review: Scientology the Musical at Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

A scrappily fun, rock comedy takedown of Scientology

★★★
musicals review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Scientology the Musical
Published 08 Aug 2018

You could probably just list all of the beliefs of Scientology and its founder, the erstwhile pulp sci-fi writer and autobiographically ‘creative’ L. Ron Hubbard, and get something that would sound like parody. From this perspective, Australian troupe George Glass Comedy have given themselves a pretty easy job.

Actually, reciting Scientology’s mantras with tongues firmly lodged in their cheeks? That’s pretty much what they do. If you’re expecting musical cameos from infamous Hollywood Scientologists like Tom Cruise or John Travolta, you’ll be disappointed. This is a more Flight of The Conchords-style voyage into gentle surrealism by six performers with instruments.

The show’s rock-opera stylings are a good fit for the hyper-macho swagger of Hubbard’s hilariously convoluted space opera mythology about Thetans and souls in volcanos. The company’s appearance in navy uniforms is a neatly comic reference to Hubbard’s murkily vague career background and makes about as much sense.

This is a scrappy, silly production, powered by the lo-fi charm of its performers as they, poker-faced, flag Scientology’s pick-and-mix ‘borrowing’ from other religions – as well as its fluid status as a charity or a belief, depending on whether it’s the IRS asking. The show has a vague framing device about new recruits, but it’s really just an excuse to dress up in a bunny onesie or as Christ.

There are some great sight gags—notably the trippy Alice in Wonderland-inspired payoff for a suitcase of secrets—but there’s also coasting and some flat lyrics. Still, you’ll want to sign up.