Writer (Book, Music and Lyrics): Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: Ruth Jepson
There’s a light, over at the Leeds Grand Theatre place, and it’s a spotlight on the original drag comedy musical extravaganza The Rocky Horror Show. Now in its 46th year surely there isn’t a person on planet Earth who hasn’t yet thrown on a pair of fishnets, headed up to Frank’s laboratory and done the Time Warp? Judging by the opening night audience in Leeds there isn’t! Dressed to the nines and shouting in all the right places, Yorkshire certainly knows how to give The Rocky Horror Show a grand old welcome back.
This tour sees James Darch and Strictly Come Dancing star Joanne Clifton step into the high heels of Brad and Janet, whose motoring mishap finds them stranded at an old castle inhabited by Dr Frank N Furter (Duncan James, former singer from 90s boy band Blue), and his servants Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia (Andrew Ahern, Kristian Lavercombe, Laura Harrison and Miracle Chance). Their innocence is rapidly stripped away via a night of sexual exploration and shenanigans, prompted by Frank’s creation of the perfect man, the titular Rocky (Callum Evans).
Clifton gives a spot-on performance as Janet, playing good girl gone bad with just enough cheese to play for laughs but also have the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. Shame she didn’t pass any tips to Chance whose spends the entire show offputtingly mugging and overacting like she is doing the local am-dram Panto. The absolute show-stealer, however, is Kristian Lavercombe, whose delightful campiness and whip-smart comebacks are an absolute hit with the (at times) rather ruthless audience. James is less successful as the third member of the star name triad. He is an amazing singer (his I’m Going Home is excellent), and a surprisingly good dancer, but his choice to try to butch up Frank doesn’t always land, and his acting sometimes ends up being rather a let-down.
Despite a few unsatisfying acting choices however, the production as a whole is a thoroughly enjoyable pastiche of the 70s Sci-Fi B Movie genre. The audience loved joining in, are in near-constant laughter, and can’t wait to get up and dance along. The cast are clearly enjoying themselves and are excellent at handling the call outs. Finally, the whole production is a visual masterpiece, from the much-loved erotic costuming designed by Sue Blane to the simple yet effective set by Hugh Durrant and laser filled lighting design by Nick Richings (especially the final shot of Punt during Superheroes, which is breathtakingly beautiful and atmospheric). It is definitely worth heading to Leeds and giving yourself over to absolute pleasure.
Runs until Saturday 24th August 2019 | Image: Contributed