roky top

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show

The New Alexandra Theatre

*****

LET’S start with a few adjectives. Sexy, outrageous, kinky, risqué, colourful and daring and that’s just the audience.

Richard O Brien’s 43-year-old Rock Musical about the salacious goings on at a gothic castle seems to have achieved a well rehearsed cult status now, where the audience are as much about the show as the performers on stage.

With the advent of the audience participation beginning as far back as the seventies, the public ad libs to the script are now so well catered for, that timely pauses in the on stage dialogue allow for them to be called out and reacted to.

It’s a little disconcerting if you are seeing the production for the first time to accept the interruptions, but the Rocky audience are a faithful bunch and I would wager that most people would have seen the show at least twice if the timing of the heckles were anything to go by.

O’Brien’s vision of a sexy sc-fi B movie has certainly grown into blockbuster professionalism, with some great lighting effects, a slick well produced live band under the direction of Ben Van Tienen that also sounded great, with sound by Gareth Owen. It all feels sounds and looks expensive and the cast deliver performances to match.

The staging and costumes keep faithful to the original stage production but the inclusion of a celluloid type backdrop not only serves the B Movies genre, but also suggests that there is some effort to reflect the polish of the film version in which Tim Curry, a member of the original cast, starred.

Liam Tamnes, glamorous high heeled Dr Frank-N-Furter was also in the original mould and his broad shoulders and powerful vocals proved he was a sweet but strong transvestite. The effective long legs of Kay Murphy as Magenta were suitably evident as was her voice when doubling also as the Usherette. Steve Punt of Radio four fame worked the narrator slot and his anticipation of the audience heckles was timely but not as off the cuff or as playful as would have been expected.  

Janet was played by Haley Flaherty who brought her vast musical theatre experience to bear whilst her boyfriend Brad was played by Richard Meek. Meek especially has a great singing voice and had several opportunities to show it in the ballads.

Kristian Lavercombe played Riff Raff with a suitable amount of sleaze and Sophie Linder Lee was the fireball of energy Columbia. The male eye candy of Rocky comes in the perfect body of Dominic Anderson who must live in the gym and Paul Cattermole returns to his first musical role since his S Club 7 singing days as Eddie and Dr Scott.

With the likes of Beyonce, Lady GaGa and other pop artistes taking their on stage dress code to the risqué extremes, Rocky Horror is hardly shocking by comparison. It remains a fun escapist evening for those wanting a fantasy night out whilst being able to return to the safety of a straight normal life the following day. In 40 years our acceptance of the alternate lifestyle is practically complete but the phenomenon that is The Rocky Horror Show look set to continue and evolve. This production is fresh but more polished than perverted and the fans will be looking for even more extremes in the future and that will surely keep this monster alive and kicking. To 15-10-16

Jeff Grant

10-10-16

 

And through the time warp . . .

****

THIS is the rock ‘n’ roll musical which has developed a cult following over the past 40 years, and the audience play a major part in the fun.

If you sit anywhere near the front few rows of the stalls it’s like being in the show, with members of the audience, many dressed similar to the cast – basques, fishnet stockings (men too) and wigs - exchanging extremely rude comments with the narrator.

It must be a severe shock to any innocent theatre-goers seeing this show for the first time, with sexual barbs flying from all directions, but the format is pretty well known and the fans love it.

Steve Punt plays the Narrator superbly, clearly enjoying his jousts with the audience, and if the action on stage wasn’t naughty enough, even Donald Trump gets a mention in this particular production.

Richard Meek and Haley Flaherty are in great form – literally – as the squeaky clean sweethearts whose car blows a tyre during a heavy rainstorm and they unfortunately call at an eerie castle nearby looking for help.

Instead they find themselves in the clutches of randy transvestite Frank-N-Furter, an apparently mad scientist who turns out to be an alien who takes advantage of both of them in an extraordinary double bed scene which is the most shocking part of the show.

Liam Tamne, who plays the whip-cracking transvestite, lacks some of the menace and madness delivered by some actors I have seen in the role, but he is still convincing enough at the crucial times in his clashes with the weirdos in his castle . . . not to mention the steamy clinches between the sheets with the extremely surprised Brad and Janet.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show gets the customers on their feet with the Time Warp, well played by the excellent band directed by Ben Van Tienen.

Paul Marston

Index page Alex Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre