Writer: Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: Chris Williams
“Back by popular demand” it says on the posters, Rocky Horror Show returns to Cardiff’s New Theatre just months after stopping there in February this year, and if the rainy Monday audience is anything to go by “popular demand” is an understatement.
Going strong for over 40 years and showing no signs of let up, or even a mid-life crisis – some shows might attempt a tune up if they’d been going for so long, but part of Rocky Horror’s longevity and popularity is its simplicity.
A loving pastiche on 50s/60s B-Movies, Rocky Horror concerns sweet, young all-American Brad and Janet, who are on their way to share their engagement news with their old physics professor; on the way there they get a flat tyre and decide to telephone for help at a nearby mansion – it’s there they meet the “sweet transvestite” Frank N Furter and their lives will never be the same.
Most of the cast have been in this production and these roles for a substantial time, while that could be a bad thing for some shows but Rocky Horror is a different creature, there’s not one person on stage that doesn’t look like they’re having the best fun.
One member of the cast who looks like he’s loving his time on stage is Philip Franks’ Narrator. As the character interacts with the audience, Franks comes up with some filthy, funny, satirical and local (“slut sounds so much sharper in a welsh accent”) ad-libs. He even joins in on the costume front at the curtain call, those familiar with the show will know what that means.
Liam Tamne might have found his defining role in Frank, you can believe this mad scientist really might be insane, but he is charismatic – not to mention sexy – with it.
Haley Flaherty (Janet), Sophie Linder-Lee (Columbia) and Kay Murphy (Magenta) have all played the characters before; this means they’ve got them nailed down, and so comfortable in the roles. But it’s Murphy as the stand-out, having the dual role of the Usherette (as well as Magenta) she gets to open and close the show with one of the best songs – Science Fiction.
Dominic Andersen is Rocky, he has the looks and body of someone who was sculpted by an oversexed genius, and he can sing too, of course. Anderson has also been in the role for a time, and he shows no signs of being bored of playing a role whose costume is just a pair of leopard-print pants.
The set is a low-fi caricature of gothic and sci-fi, furthering the B-movies homage. The set is possibly the least important part of the show, the audience would be just as happy to see the songs sung in front of painted backgrounds. The band and lighting add to the atmosphere – putting the rock into Rocky Horror Show.
The audience has always been an integral and loyal part of Rocky Horror, and Monday night’s were on top form. As Frank says “it’s not easy having a good time, even smiling makes my face ache”, but having a good time is easy if you’re in the Rocky Horror Show audience and your face will ache from laughing.
Runs until 26 November 2016, as part of a UK Tour | Image: Sean Webb