Shock Treatment last year it seemed about time for a visit to the famous original, in which newly-engaged couple Brad (arsehole) (Ben Freeman) and Janet’s (slut) (Diana Vickers) car breaks down and they go to a spooky mansion to see if they have a phone they can use (they don't.)
This is where pansexual transvestite mad scientist Frank N Furter (Liam Tamne) is
about to reveal his latest creation, Rocky Horror (Dominic Andersen,) a
barely-clothed, perfect male specimen he plans to use as his boy-toy.
But Rocky has (half) a mind of his own and is far more interested in Janet (slut)
than he is in his master. Being an affectionate spoof/homage to B movies, The
Rocky Horror Show’s plot is best not dwelt on in too much detail, and in the
superior first act at least its ridiculousness helps paper over any cracks. The main
cast also includes Kay Murphy as Magenta and Sophie Linder-Lee as Columbia, while
Kristian Lavercombe has been playing Riff Raff for years in productions around the
world – which may explain why his first appearance got the biggest cheer from the
audience of regulars.
And this is where the show becomes impossible to review in the usual sense, as over
the decades a tradition of audience interaction has built up, with much of the crowd
dressing up as the characters, and calling out throughout the show - there’s a number
of "official" responses that have built up over the years, like the heckles that
greet every mention of Brad (arsehole) or Janet’s (slut) names, while the
bolder/drunker audience members try out gags of their own, which usually get
rebuffed by the Narrator: This role tends to be alternated by various guest stars on
tour, and anyone who’s ever been to Wimbledon will be unsurprised to hear that for
this leg it’s Steve Punt (with Carlie Condou and Norman Pace doing the honours
elsewhere on tour) so tonight’s heckles included slagging off The Now Show.
As with the film, I found that the second act is a real let-down; the plot gets
particularly messy, which probably wouldn’t matter except the show’s very
front-loaded, with almost all the best songs – including “Dammit Janet,” “The Time
Warp,” “Over at the Frankenstein Place” and “Sweet Transvestite” – in the first
half, while with the exception of "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me" the second
is largely ballads I’ve never liked much. But notwithstanding the weaknesses of the
show itself, the cast do sterling work with its strengths, and it’s probably fair to
say there isn’t really a show quite like it.
The Rocky Horror Show by Richard O’Brien is booking until the 5th of March at the
New Wimbledon Theatre; then continuing on tour to Torquay, Bradford, Edinburgh,
York, Aylesbury, Richmond, Stoke-on-Trent, Woking, Bristol, Milton Keynes, Glasgow,
Oxford and Birmingham.
Running time: 2 hours including interval.