Writer: Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: John Roberts
Religious protestors tried in vain to put a dampener on proceedings as The Rocky Horror Show opened tonight at Chester’s Storyhouse theatre, while the mood outside may have been a little fraught, inside it was sexy and electric.
Richard O’Brien’s cult musical continues touring the UK pulling in old fans and new “virgins” all eager to share in the madness and jump onto their feet and join in with the Time Warp. The audience is just as much a part of the experience with shout-outs and call backs being interwoven throughout the journey. Taking helm of the madness and steering the Storyhouse crowd is Philip Franks who over the years has performed as the Narrator in 1000s of performances, there isn’t a quip or call back he hasn’t heard or unable to deal with.
Christopher Luscombe’s production is a slick and fast-paced affair which is lit with incredible shards of colour thanks to Nick Richings striking lighting design, and played out on Hugh Durrant’s comic book style set design lends itself perfectly to the madness. In which the tight ensemble give highly energetic and sexy performances.
Donning the stilettoes is leading man Stephen Webb whose portrayal of Frank N Furter is deliciously devine and full of naughty nudges. It’s clear this is a role that perfectly fits Webb and he is enjoying every last moment of it, much to the audiences delight. Joanna Clifton cuts a strong performance as the frigid Janet Wiess and is matched perfectly by James Darch’s uptight Brad Majors.
The tantalising trio of Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia are played brilliantly by Kristian Lavercombe, Laura Harrison and Miracle Chance, with Harrison really taking centre stage, a performer who has really started to showcase leading lady material and a delight to see continue to grow and blossom with every role she undertakes.
The Rocky Horror Show in Chester sometimes feels a little out of kilter with its more “traditional, white middle class” patronage, and the audience did take a little time to get to temperature, but the cast worked tirelessly to bring them up to the boil, which eventually led to a undeniably and well earnt standing ovation. Bringing a show like Rocky Horror to Chester was a clear risk, but this production more than proves producers and the venue should take more risks like this.
Runs until 21 September 2019 | Image: Contributed