Richard Obrien’s Rocky Horror Show

You want a panto, there are plenty to choose from. You want a great night out then make a beeline straight to Theatre Royal Brighton. A few years ago, to much criticism, they stopped doing panto but after many seasonal shows they have proved that this was the right decision – and Rocky Horror is perhaps the best yet.

It’s been around the block more than a few times but somehow it never ages. This year’s production is thunderingly good from the first crashing chord that certainly pulls the audience to order. The band is first class, as punchy and as rocky as the first time I saw this show back in the mists of time, well the early 70s! They don’t miss a beat or a trick in being convincingly rock and roll and certainly not theatre pit.

The ensemble are beautifully sinister, stalking around a clever set which is briliantly lit throughout. There’s not one person on that stage that is not giving it their all and it really shows in this full on and totally committed production.

So on to the stars, and all of the principals are stars. Kristian Lavercombe is no newcomer to the role of Riff Raff and it is clear why, he is simply brilliant both physically and vocally, a real joy to watch. Dom Joly is excellent as the narrator, fielding the heckling, and my word how a Rocky Horror audience can heckle, with wit and grace, not easy when your manhood is being constantly challenged. Miracle Change is great as Columbia truly coming into her own at the denouement, Ross Chisari is a rockin’ Eddie if a little too young for Dr Scott and Laura Morrison nails the opening number and carries on with style as Magenta.

The plot, scant as it is, depends on a very convincing Rocky, all brawn and less brain, and Callum Evans is superbly right in the role with a performance that is pure energy – and finely honed body.

Stephen Webb’s Frank N Furter is butcher than your usual Frank but no less effective. Others have been more lascivious and camp, but Webb’s ambiguity perhaps reflects more modern attitudes.

Ben Adams is great as the all American boy and his transition from prude to sexually awakened bi-boy Brad is very funny and he can certainly deliver those songs – a very enjpoyable performance.

Joanne Clifton comes from the world of ballroom dancing but my word she is comfortable on the theatrical stage – as she has already proven in other productions. But Dammit Janet, she was made for this role, she does prim so well, but she does sexy too, and for a dancer she has a show stopping voice that rides high on this high octane Christmas offering that proves once again that there is room for adult entertainment in a season obsessed with kids!

Theatre Royal Brighton

18 December

Andrew Kay

Rating: ★★★★★

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