Reviewed by L Burton
The Rocky Horror Show somewhat defies a neat description. There are plenty of rock’n’roll songs in this musical, but that’s where the simplicity ends; it’s a wild ride that’s full of it. Since it first appeared in 1973, The Rocky Horror Show has been performed in nearly every major city in the world, including London, Broadway, and its film adaptation. Now as part of its latest UK tour, currently running at Nottingham Concert Hall where I went to watch it.
Originally written by Richard O’Brien and starring Brad and Janet, the Rocky Horror Show follows a couple who, while travelling with their car broke down, meet Dr Frank’n’Furter. Little do they know that they were in for a night they’ll never forget, filled with corruption, charm, and a lot of campness. Poking fun at science-fiction stories, Rocky Horror has its tongue firmly in its cheek throughout. As a result of its exceptional writing as well as its timelessness and progressiveness since its premiere, the show has stood the test of time to date.
In the Rocky Horror Show, the songs are what make it such a fun show and I was over the moon to hear that all the original songs were still part of the show. I’ve been to enough shows where none of the original film songs were used – musicals are known by their music and that’s why people generally come to see the show!! There are only a few songs that you will instantly recognize, making it one of those rare shows in which the vast majority of songs are already embedded in pop culture. A show with consistently incredible music, from ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature’ to ‘Sweet Transvestite’, to the timeless party anthem ‘The Time Warp’, this is a show that leaves you with a smile permanently fixed on your face every time.The Rocky Horror Show is fairly unique in the audience it attracts – this was something I was most unprepared for!! From small sparkly pants (worn by great big fully-grown men) to small teeny tiny thongs – we saw it ALL last night. Suspenders and garters, wigs and lacey numbers, lab coats and maids’ uniforms, it was ALL on parade at the concert hall! Now, as shocked as I was, I do admire people feeling that confident and comfortable to wear said pieces of clothing, and as I know the story, I was fully prepared to see a considerable amount of flesh on stage – not so much in the audience however! Another surprise to me was audience participation which is very much encouraged with responses called out throughout the show, mainly at the Narrators expense – and as much as some people were laughing, we were not the only ones looking confused, wondering what the shouting was about. The momentary silences on stage were filled with perfectly timed, scripted responses from the audience, making it clear they were part of the show. And as fantastic as the narrator was, for us, it got a bit much to be honest. Some of the audience seemed to like having all the attention focussed on them but I came to see the professional actors on stage and regardless of this being encouraged and part of the audience experience, I was not a fan. However, it is hard not to buy into the atmosphere when all the audience got up and danced and we definitely enjoyed a boogie to “Time-warp”.
An expert cast assemble to step in to the heels of these legendary characters. During a limited four-week run at the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, from Monday 21 to Saturday 26 August, Scottish actor Joe McFadden will take part in the 50th Anniversary tour of the legendary smash hit musical The Rocky Horror Show. A flawless natural sweetness is perfectly embodied by Richard Meek and Haley Flaherty in portraying Brad and Janet’s primary innocence but effortlessly tainted relationship. There are times when both have the opportunity to show off their impressive voices together and they have fantastic chemistry. In his portrayal of Dr Frank’n’Furter, Stephen Webb gives an outstanding performance that is instantly comparable to Tim Curry’s portrayal, yet equally compelling for its own sake.
Kristian Lavercombe is an absolute double of Riff Raff, which doesn’t surprise me when he has played the role for more than 2000 performances worldwide. With his phenomenal portrayal and gestures, he is a natural choice for the role and, alongside Suzie McAdams who is mesmerising as Magenta, make the roles their very own. Ben Westhead flawlessly captures Rocky while Darcy Finden is luminously nutty as Columbia. The main cast is finally completed by Joe Allen who gets two small but outstanding roles as Eddie and Dr Scott.
The direction from Christopher Luscombe applies Richard O Brien’s immaculate writing and makes the most of the variable production particulars. The set design was simplistic but perfect and together with the lighting design from Nick Richings, uplifted the whole affair. Nathan M Wright beautifully brings to life the iconic choreography of The Rocky Horror Show on stage.
If you are a fan of the movie, I would most definitely recommend it. Not suitable for children.
Rating: 4/5 if not for the audience shouting would have been 5/5
Tickets start at £20.50 and can be purchased from https://trch.co.uk/whats-on/the-rocky-horror-show-23/#book.
The show is on from Tuesday 22 Aug to Saturday 26 Aug 2023