Book, Music &Lyrics: Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: Lauren Humphreys
1973 may be remembered for many things: the year VAT was introduced; Britain joined the EEC; the three day week came into force; Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips and a young, out of work New Zealand actor wrote The Rocky Horror Show.
Richard O’Brien’s groundbreaking work represented a seismic shift in the musicals of the day and went from the tiny space that is Upstairs at the Royal Court to cult movie, to seemingly endless productions and tours around the world. It’s even spawned its own subculture where fans dress up, dance and throw out carefully orchestrated heckles. Not bad for a 43-year-old story about a transsexual alien with Dr. Frankenstein aspirations.
The plot is utterly nonsensical, but none of that matters, this is more of a theatrical ‘experience’, either full-on participatory involvement or as an amused (or bemused) on-looker. Paying homage to the science fiction, schlock-horror B-movies of the 50s, young lovers Brad and Janet are on their way to visit their old science tutor with news of their engagement when their car breaks down. Walking through the torrential rain they stumble upon a strange old castle where they meet a highly unusual set of residents…
This has always, and continues to be, an audience pleaser where anything goes. When the first notes of The Time Warp ring out, the entire auditorium leaps to its feet, the feather boas fly and the enthusiastic pelvic thrusting of the row in front begins. There’s the people watching too, how many Franks, Columbias and Magentas can you spot? Did I really see a grandpa in a basque?
The set is as ropey as its B-movie inspiration, so much of the success of any production lies in its cast. Liam Tamne certainly has the pipes, as evidenced by his show-stopping turns in Les Mis and Phantom, but doesn’t get to showcase them here until the ballads. His is a little cruder than the usual urbane Frank, but he certainly looks the part. Shining bright vocally is Richard Meek (Brad), who has the most beautifully toned and modulated voice. Kristian Lavercombe still steals every scene he’s in as Riff Raff, and retains an admirable enthusiasm for a role he’s played over a thousand times. Mention must be made of former S Club Seven singer Paul Cattermole, who acquits himself surprisingly well as Dr. Scott/Eddie and Dominic Anderson’s Rocky actually manages to make an impression beyond the muscles and teeny tiny pants. Faring less well is X Factor alumni Diana Vickers (Janet), as wooden as the set, she has an annoying nasal whine which grates throughout.
Salacious, silly, frisky and risqué, The Rocky Horror Show still has the power to thoroughly entertain and long may it continue.
Runs until Saturday 13 August 2016 | Image: Contributed