Book/Lyrics/Music: Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: Matthew Bagnall
The Rocky Horror Show needs little introduction to most of us. Another revival of this 40 year old musical classic finds itself jumping all the way to the left to Stoke-on-Trent. Not much has changed in this latest adaptation but fans of the show will certainly take to the absurdity and vulgar elements like any other show before them.
The atmosphere within the theatre is electric and for those less familiar with the show; you may be in for a surprise when you see it. This isn’t a conventional musical by any means. Audience interaction is a common feature throughout Rocky Horror and when not done excessively, it plays a pivotal role in igniting the comedy in the musical.
Brad (Ben Freeman) and Janet (Diana Vickers) are celebrating their engagement. Their sophisticated nature soon takes a turn for the worse however as they encounter a series of problems as they attempt to visit Dr Everett V Scott (Paul Cattermole) who helped them meet one another. The break-down of their car leads them to Dr Frank-N-Furter’s mansion who has ambitions of producing the stereotypical, perfect man – Rocky Horror.
The madness that follows is a reminder as to why this show has been such a success over the past several decades. The surreal nature of some character stereotypes brings a lot of humour to the musical while the popular rendition of The Time Warp prompts the entire audience to showcase their moves in the auditorium. If you’re not familiar with the song or the dance you may be at the wrong show.
Freeman and Vickers do a fine job in portraying the characters of Brad and Janet. The subtlety in emotion from Vickers should be commended; however the stereotype of Brad’s character could be shown with more clarity. Both of their vocals are of a very high standard including a powerful solo by Freeman.
Liam Tamne as Frank-N-Furter is superb in performing a character with evil and manipulative intent while bringing a flamboyance which is typical of the role. His overbearing and creepy instincts during the bed scene is one of many comedic highlights in the show. Kristian Lavercombe is also solid throughout with almost one thousand performances in the role of Riff Raff.
The bulk of this comedy is in fact generated by the audience. Steve Punt as the narrator shows genuine skill with his improvisational abilities – albeit with anticipation of the crude and vulgar comments shouted by the audience – His responses demonstrate his experience in the role and bring many moments of laughter in an already boisterous atmosphere.
The set design by Hugh Durrant is quite literally picturesque. Complemented by the exceptional lighting design by Nick Richings, which features eye-catching strobe effects that leave the audience in amazement. The costume designs by Sue Blane are also of a high standard and play a significant part in contributing to the lovable outrageousness of this show.
This production of The Rocky Horror Show is of a high standard. Fans with a lot of passion and enthusiasm for the show will appreciate its qualities regardless of any flaws. Those who have never seen the show may struggle to feel a part of the Rocky Horror community that will certainly come in their drones on show night but it is still an enjoyable experience nevertheless. It’s worth catching if you get the chance.
Runs until Saturday 28, May 2016