Writer: Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: Dawn Smallwood
Over 43 years ago Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show opened at the Royal Court Theatre in London. No one then envisaged the musical would become such a hit, with frequent return visits to packed audiences around the world. The Leeds Grand is no different.
This is an experience not to be missed; the audience is as much a part of the action, as the show itself. Now a cult classic, many enjoy dressing as the main characters (Frank-N-Furter, Rocky, Magenta and Columbia lookalikes). It is not unusual to find the audience familiar with the script, as they recite the narrator’s line and contribute in between, sing aloud, and dance boldly to the popular musical hits such as The Time Warp, Sweet Transvestite, Don’t Dream It, Be It and so on.
The musical follows Brad and Janet (Richard Meek and Haley Flaherty), a naïve and conservatively clean young couple who were driving to visit Dr. Scott (Paul Cattermole), their college science professor, and the car breaks down. They try and seek help at a castle which is situated in the middle of nowhere and they only to have a rude awakening with Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Liam Tamne), a transvestite who owns the castle, and they subsequently get dragged into his warped world.
It must be said that Rocky Horror is unsuitable for young families. It’s bold, outrageous and naughty with a flurry of sexual innuendoes and references throughout. There is no specific plot, just sheer entertainment and an eclectic mix of gothic, science fiction, adult humour, rock and roll and feel good songs, set to Richard Hartley’s musical arrangement.
This production, under the direction of Christopher Luscombe, is equipped with its tremendous staging. Noted are the bold and eye-catching costumes and its ambitious use of laser lighting and soundscapes and plenty of smoke to create the atmosphere the show warrants, courtesy of Hugh Durrant, Sue Blane, Nick Richings and Gareth Owen. The high profile talented cast ensures the show is kept fresh as to when it first opened many years ago; excellent portrayals from Charlie Condou (known for playing Marcus Dent in Coronation Street) as the narrator and Liam Tamne who is incredible as Frank-N-Furter. Exuding charm, he has a powerful presence and excellent voice. The rest of the cast are also superb and all work in unison.
Rocky Horror Show was written ahead of its time, and still as popular today. If not more so, as people are more open to sexuality and ideas of gender fluidity, while science fiction and rock ‘n’ roll are just as big in 2016 as in 1973. O’Brien wrote this at a time when traditional theatre was at its peak and opportunities began for contemporary theatre following social changes and attitudes from the Swinging Sixties. Rocky Horror Show certainly welcomes escapism from the modern daily grind of life, and the warped world of the show creates a sense of optimism, as you leave the theatre thinking, “don’t dream it, be it”!
Runs until 5 November 2016 | Image: Sean Webb