Review: The Rocky Horror Show (touring) Nottingham Royal Concert Hall

The suspender clad audience at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall are positively trembling with antici – pa – tion as The Rocky Horror Show lands in town. From their glittering gold top hats to their fishnet legs, they enter in a state of high excitement, to meet their cult heroes in the flesh. And no-one leaves unsatisfied, as the whole cast gives an energetic and enthusiastic performance.

The show, written by Brit Richard O’Brien, was originally created as a small studio production in London in 1973. After the adaptation to film in 1975, it quickly gathered a dedicated following and grew and grew to massive international proportions. It’s tongue-in-cheek, B-movie horror and science fiction storyline references many tropes from films from 1930s to 1960s, and pokes fun at them all. Although O’Brien himself calls it “a bit of fun”, in it’s time, it certainly introduced the idea of transvestitism to a broader public, and as such, had a more serious impact than at first imagined.

The story centres on boy-and-girl-next-door, Brad and Janet, whose car breaks down in the rain, near a dark and mysterious castle. They innocently ask to use the telephone but once invited in by the brooding Rif Raf, they meet the intoxicating Dr Frank N Furter, and their fate is sealed. Brad and Janet will never be the same again, their innocence plundered. The extraordinary household is celebrating the creation of a new life, Rocky, the product of an overactive imagination and some alien science. Oh yes, as stories go, it’s way out there.

Frank N Furter is a cross-dressing, sexually prolific creation and tonight is played by the enthralling Kristian Lavercombe. Entirely confident, and wringing every lip-licking, pelvis thrusting moment of juicy glory from the part, he embodies the seductive inventor. With glorious vocals and magnetic stage presence, he’s the full package. His quirky, and frankly disturbing, manservant Rif Raf, is tonight played by Swing and Resident Choreographer Andrew Ahern, with much menace and a good deal of humour. Magenta, a rather inappropriately dressed ‘maid’, gives Laura Harrison the chance to showcase her wonderfully rich vocals, whilst the kooky Columbia allows Miracle Chance an opportunity to completely lose the plot, in a most entertaining way.

Joanne Clifton is the virginal Janet, and she gives a rosy-cheeked and perky performance, full of pouting and protestation. Her plucky other half, Brad (James Darch), has a super powerful voice which deserves something more juicy to get his teeth into, and great charisma. The pair look almost like cut-out dress up dolls in the opening scenes, and Sue Blane’s costuming throughout still looks daring and outlandish.

The show is funny, the comedy unravelling in layers. The script is witty, the almost-scripted call and response contributions from the audience add further to the hilarity, but the cherry on top is Philip Frank as the Narrator. His comic timing and ability to hold the audience in the palm of his hand is superb and his response to much of the heckling is spontaneous, topical and thrillingly delivered.

The show that became such a cult over 40 years ago still has a massive following, and the audience involvement is at the heart of its continued popularity. But for those who have yet to experience the deliciously camp tale, just take a jump to the left, and then a step to the right, and surrender to the joyous silliness. In the immortal words of Frank N Furter, ‘Don’t dream it, be it’.

The Rocky Horror Show runs 28th Aug – 1st Sept at www.trch.co.uk

 

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