This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub
Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show has been entertaining audiences around the world for over 40 years. The cult rock and roll musical shows no sign of hanging up its stockings, as its latest touring incarnation bursts on stage at the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham.
Rocky Horror is a unique theatre experience. Audience members are actively encouraged to heckle (devoted fans shout out one-liners in unison), dance in the aisles and dress up as the main characters – which is why the New Alexandra is a joyful frenzy of fishnets, basques and feather boas, in what is one of the most eclectic, fun atmospheres you’re ever likely to be a part of.
A heady mix of horror, science-fiction and comedy, it follows the story of Brad and Janet, a squeaky clean young couple whose car breaks down on the way to visit their former college professor. Stranded in the middle the nowhere, they stumble upon the castle of transvestite Dr Frank-N-Furter and find themselves dragged into the twisted scientist’s debauched world. And this is where things get a little weird. And rude, really rude. But weird and rude in a good way. Be warned, it’s strictly adults-only, as outrageous sexual references come thick and fast. Frankly, much of the plot is nonsensical and all a bit silly, but it doesn’t matter, it’s still really good fun.
The X-rated musical romp is full of entertaining numbers, including Dammit Janet, Sweet Transvestite and most famously, The Time-Warp, which has many out of their seats and enthusiastically gyrating.
As a cult classic, Rocky Horror will always be popular with those who know and love it, but the challenge after four decades is to keep this eccentric show feeling fresh and relevant for a new audience. This production achieves that thanks to its atmospheric sets and use of laser lighting, dazzling costumes, and also, in no small part, its talented cast.
Richard Meek and Helen Flaherty are convincing as naïve young lovebirds Brad and Janet and Dominic Andersen impresses in more ways than one as the doctor’s muscular creation Rocky, spending most of the show in tight leopard print pants.
Its Frank-N-Furter himself, Liam Tamne, who steals the show. He’s wickedly captivating and has a terrific voice. Equally good is comedian Steve Punt as the narrator. He bears the brunt of the heckles (all good-natured, just far too rude to talk about here) throwing in his own ad-libs with great comic timing.
Praise must also go to S Club 7’s Paul Cattermole in the dual roles of Dr Scott and Eddie, who sadly has little stage time but really hits the mark with his solo Hot Patootie (Bless My Soul); and Sophie Linder-Lee asColumbia, who has the audience in fits of laughter with her drug-induced trip.
The Rocky Horror Show is quite literally a riotous romp. It’s shocking, sassy and seriously good fun, simultaneously managing to be really entertaining without making much sense at all. If you haven’t joined the cult already, grab your feather boa and remember, ‘it’s just a jump to the left…’
Runs until 15 October 2016