Rocky Horror Show – The New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Book, Music and Lyrics: Richard O’Brien

Director: Christopher Luscombe

Reviewer: James Garrington

Since it was first performed in 1973, The Rocky Horror Show has been one of those shows that people either love or hate, finding it either hilariously funny or unnecessarily rude. Very much a cult musical, the show tells the story of newly engaged couple Brad and Janet, who break down in a thunderstorm and, in classic B-movie horror style, seek help and stay overnight in an eerie gothic castle. There, predictably, they meet the mad scientist who has created a monster. At that point any similarity to tradition ends, though, as events descend into a night of sex and decadence.

This is definitely a show for the broad-minded theatre-goer with many adult themes, but the whole thing is done so well as a tongue-in-cheek send-up of the old horror films that rather than appearing gratuitous, it is actually extremely funny. One of the joys of The Rocky Horror Show is watching the audience arrive for the performance, as many get into the spirit of the evening by turning up in costume. There are basques, stockings and suspenders aplenty – and that’s just the men. It’s clear that there are here to have a good time, and a good time is what they get.

They don’t have to wait very long for the first big moment, as very soon everyone is on their feet joining in as the rocking band (led by Ben Van Tienen) launches into The Time Warp, a party favourite. Audience participation is clearly expected, and many seem to relish the opportunity to interject their – often rude – comments from the stalls, creating great amusement for those around them. Steve Punt, as the narrator, does a superb job of dealing with these and keeping the plot moving. Punt is one of the unsung heroes and seems entirely at home batting back the heckles with suitable retorts, as you would expect from such a seasoned comedian.

Diana Vickers (Janet) and Ben Freeman (Brad) provide a suitably naive pairing as the young, innocent lovers who get drawn into events, and both demonstrate good vocals when the time comes, as well as nifty footwork in the sometimes full-on dance routines. Kristian Lavercombeis a wonderful hunch-backed butler-cum-factotum as Riff Raff, a role full of comedy potential and Lavercombe milks it for all its worth.

At the heart of events is Liam Tamne as Frank-N-Furter, a role which demands a full-on performance and Tamne seems happy to provide it. This is a part that doesn’t need great singing or dancing – though Tamne can clearly deliver on both counts – but does call for a huge, over-the-top stage presence, and huge it certainly is, as he scarcely leaves the stage from the moment he first appears until the final curtain. A final word must go to Zachary Morris, standing – or rather sitting – in for the ill Paul Cattermole as Dr Scott, and giving a seamless performance.

The Rocky Horror Show is a wonderful, high camp musical send-up party night at the theatre, end the entire cast throw themselves into it with gusto. Richard O’Brien’s cleverly-written script provides a huge amount of comedy and director Christopher Luscombe wrings every ounce of it out.

Sexy, sassy, and extremely funny – and for all but the most narrow-minded, a good time is guaranteed.

Runs until 30 January 2016 | Image: Contributed

Review Overview



User Rating: 3.17 ( 9 votes)

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