In case you've managed to avoid this twisted teenage tale so far, Heathers tells the story of Veronica, a High School student desperate to finish school without suffering too much at the hands of the dangerous teenage ecosystem in which she sits. She manages to befriend the Heathers, the untouchables, at the cost of her own integrity. Meeting the tortured and brooding JD, Veronica falls madly in love before understanding that his dark exterior might go a little deeper than a teenage aesthetic. A murderous rampage begins as the chaos of teen life is taken to the extreme. Trigger warnings can be found on the show's and theatre's websites, though it should be noted that all dark themes are presented with a heavy dose of camp fun, as is the essence of this show. 

The show itself is an exceptional work of musical theatre, with some interesting changes kept after the initial UK revival (You're Welcome still falls a little flat in place of the original Blue, but I Say No and Never Shut Up Again are fabulous additions to the soundtrack and story). Visually, the show is brilliant, with David Shields' set transferring seamlessly to the new venue, and Ben Cracknell's lighting an utter triumph. The sound balancing needed work at times, especially when some individuals were consistently difficult to hear over the fabulous music, but for the most part the atmosphere created was raucous. 

The cast cannot be faulted on energy, though is not without some weak links - indeed, some closer work on the script would be welcome - but this is overwhelmingly mitigated by a host of exceptional performances. Jenna Innes is a vocal sensation as Veronica - belting as if her life depends on it, she performs the iconic soundtrack exactly as one would hope. Esme Bowdler is an imposing force as the almighty Heather Chandler - though we might benefit from a little more savage grit and general range in the comedic beats of her character, it must be said that this woman knows how to own a stage! Daisy Twells is a hilariously robotic Heather McNamara, though we long for just a little more sincerity in her Lifeboat (stunningly sung). Conor McFarlane and Alexander Service are exceptional as Ram and Kurt's dads respectively, and Amy Miles makes a fantastic professional debut as Martha with unwavering character commitment and hilarious facial expressions throughout without losing the deep sincerity of this sensitive soul. 

However, there is one name that will remain on everyone's lips as they leave this theatre: Keelan McAuley steals the show with a gut-wrenchingly brilliant JD. This character is not easy to master, yet somehow McAuley balances roguish charm, heart-breaking vulnerability, and deep psychotic energy with seeming ease and grace. His chemistry with Innes is electric and his portrayal of such a complex love interest/villain is utterly captivating on every level, embracing the presence audience as if we were another character on stage. This performance alone is worth the ticket.

A near-perfect production of a truly iconic show with very little damage to report, Heathers is at @sohoplace until 6th July. Tickets: here.

Review: Penny Lane    Photos: Pamela Raith