East AngliaMusicalReview

The Rocky Horror Show – Theatre Royal, Norwich

Reviewer: Lu Greer

Music/Lyrics: Richard O’Brien
Director: Christopher Luscombe

The Rocky Horror Show debuted in 1973 and now struts its way back on to the stage for a 50th anniversary tour. At this point it seems unlikely that there would be many Rocky Horror virgins left, but for the uninitiated the musical is best described as the beautiful love child of a drag show and a 50s b-movie horror which tells the story of newlyweds Brad and Janet who find themselves in a very strange mansion.

The Rocky Horror audience arrive in their fishnets, corsets, and very little else ready to sing along, heckle throughout, and occasionally spray their neighbours with rice but in its own way their devoted crowd can present quite the challenge for a new touring production. With an audience knowing every line of the show and arriving with high expectations the ensemble must be up to the task. And Jackie Clune as the Narrator is certainly up to it; her timing and her wit are perfect in the role as she rebuts the expected heckles and gives perfect one liner comebacks to the new ones. The other standouts of the show come for a somewhat unexpected place in the Phantoms with Beth Woodcock and Stefania Du Toit in particular delivering outstanding performances. Whether they are in the foreground of a scene of simply moving a set piece their characterisation is captivating.

The rest of the cast do a good job in their performances and while Stephen Webb’s Frank-N-Furter is of course fun he brings a rather distractingly odd accent to the role; part nondescript American, and part English, it makes for an odd blend.

The costume design (Sue Blane) is on point throughout and the lighting (Nick Richings) during Sweet Transvestite really brings the scenes to life and adds an additional depth.

Overall, this 50th anniversary feels like a missed opportunity. With so many outstanding iterations of the production to have gone before it could have been a case of cherry picking the best aspects of each version to create something beautiful but instead it seems to fall just a little short.

But the thing is, it doesn’t actually matter. The Rocky Horror gives a night like no other. It creates a safe space full of glitter, feathers, and heels where you can shout and laugh and become part of a crowd full of genuine acceptance and joy. Whether you’re seeing it for the first time or the hundredth you’ll still be doing the Time Warp by the end of the night.

Runs Until: 16 September 2023

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The South East team is under the editorship of Nicole Craft. 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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