MusicalNorth WestReview

The Rocky Horror Show – Liverpool Empire

Book/Music/Lyrics: Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: John Roberts


The Rocky Horror Show isn’t known for its subtly, or its ability to stick to the strict code of conduct that theatregoers up and down the land have come to adhere too. Instead, this sexy, saucy and downright enjoyable musical takes those rules, sticks them firmly in its mouth (behave!) and then spits them out (I said behave!) and that’s what makes the whole experience so enjoyable.

This is interactive theatre for grown-ups and one that still stands the test of time 43 years after its first outing at London’s Royal Court Theatre. Most people would have scoffed if you were to say a production about a transsexual alien and a plan to take over the world would become a cult classic and still bring an audience to its feet more than once in a show… but that is exactly what Richard O’Brien has achieved with TheRocky Horror Show.

This 40th-anniversary production, directed by Christopher Luscombe, keeps the musical feeling as fresh and tasty as its leading characters, played here by Ben Freeman and Diana Vickers as the young and sexually naive couple Brad “the asshole” Majors and Janet “the slut” Weiss – who embark on a strange journey following a puncture… a journey which they would remember for a very long time.

At an audience-friendly two hour running time, the story flows with pace, and the laughter and sauciness comes thick and fast, ensuring full enjoyment for all who have entered the theatre for the ride (Oh come on, you’re better than that!) That enjoyment is down to a cast who pull out all the stops to bring a high octane thrill fest and none more so than leading male Liam Tamne, who is arguably one of the best Frank-N-Furter’s the musical has ever had.

Tamne resembles a young Tim Curry with his tall, toned physique, but he has a voice that brings a new resonance to the role. His rendition of I’m Going Home being poignant and powerful and his ability to command the stage and the audience is almost second nature to the young musical theatre performer… this is a career defining performance and one that will be remembered for years to come by this reviewer.

Vickers once again shows herself as a strong and versatile performer in the role of Janet and has a great chemistry with co-star Ben Freeman. Sophie Linder-Lee is highly enjoyable as the squeaky-voiced and hyperactive Columbia and Kristian Lavercombe deserves as much praise as the audience lavishes onto him as the fiery and mysterious Riff-Raff. Credit must also be given to comedian Steve Punt (of Punt and Dennis fame) who handles the audiences calls and heckles brilliantly and let’s be honest, the Liverpool audience are well known for the ability to give a good heckle and they come out with some classics that even bring the cast close to loosing it on many occasions.

Hugh Durrant’s set may be simple, but its cartoon-esque style gives the show a unique feel, but also helps Nick Richings’ excellent lighting design to really come into its own.

As productions go, you can’t go wrong with TheRocky Horror Show – while it may have its little faults here and there, you can easily let them slip for what is essentially one of the most fun two hours you can have in the theatre and this current tour still proves that Rocky, Riff-Raff and Frank-N-Furter have the ability to entertain audiences for another 43 years without even trying.

Runs until 6 February 2016 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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