Book, Music and Lyrics: Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Reviewer: Natasha Hegarty
For 46 years, cult musical, The Rocky Horror Show has been delighting and shocking audiences all over the world. Time Warp-ing into Milton Keynes, clad in stockings, suspenders and leather, Christopher Luscombe’s show is as fantastic as ever. He takes Richard O’ Brien’s story, a homage to sci-fi B-movies, and puts on a real spectacle.
The production tells the tale of a newly-engaged, all-American innocent couple – Brad and Janet – who get a flat tyre in a storm and, like every wonderful B-movie ever released, they end up seeking help in an old castle. The castle is the home of the outrageous scientist and transvestite Frank N Furter, who reveals his latest creation – the very muscular and acrobatic Rocky. Safe to say, Brad and Janet get a lot more than they bargained for.
Stephen Webb holds the show together as Frank N Furter and is remarkable in the rôle, commanding the stage and every scene he’s in, exactly as Frank should. He confidently gyrates and thrusts across the floor with brilliant comic timing. It’s a tough rôle, but he is more than up to the job and has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Sweet Transvestite is brilliant and the audience laps up the camp spectacle, but I’m Coming Home is one of the highlights – heartbreaking and incredibly sweet, it shows off Frank’s more vulnerable side, something Webb excels at.
Strictly Come Dancing star Joanne Clifton plays the wonderfully innocent Janet and A1 singer, Ben Adams, plays Brad. They work really well together (they both starred alongside each other in Flashdance and their co-star experience really shows) and pull off the innocent teenagers who end up experiencing an unexpected sexual awakening. Adams shines in Once in a While which is one of the more touching moments of the production, showing off his beautiful voice.
The role of Narrator is taken on by Dom Joly (of Trigger Happy fame), and he responds well to heckles and saucy shout-outs from the audience, not breaking character at all. Typically, Narrator will veer off, adding in political quips or pop culture references here or there, but there is none of that in this production. It’s not a bad thing, but for those Rocky Horror veterans, it is a matter of taste as to whether you’ll miss it or not.
Kristian Lavercombe reprises his role as Riff Raff, following more than 1,300 in The Rocky Horror Show around the world. His experience shows as he seems to be in his element. Laura Harrison excels as Magenta and Usherette, giving a beautiful rendition of Science Fiction/Double Feature to open and close the show.
It isn’t perfect. Some of the group numbers feel a bit out of time, especially Eddie’s (Ross Chisari) rock solo which is difficult to hear at times with everyone on stage. Some of Hugh Durrant’s set in the opening act is a bit flimsy and doesn’t look like it will last throughout the scene, but when we reach the castle, the set is very impressive, more than making up for it.
The audience has always been a vital and loyal part of The Rocky Horror Show, dressing up, heckling and dancing along to the Time Warp, so whether you embrace the costumes or play it safe, you’ll still feel part of this show. So grab your stockings (if you feel inclined) and learn the dance routine and have fun – this is the perfect show to get over the winter blues.
Runs Until 9 February 2019 and on tour | Image: Contributed