Friday, January 21

The Rocky Horror Show

- November 30, 2021

“How do I compare thee…?” The question gets harder and harder with every visit to see this legendary peice of camp British theatre. Richard O’Brien created something very special back in 1973 and as an 18 year old in London for the first time it was high on my list of must sees. Tim Curry, O’Brien himself and a host of other weird and wonderful performances imprinted such a strong impression on me, an impression that has never left.

I quite liked the film, it has some amazing moments but it also gave rise the “joining in” element that has now attached itself to the live performances. I would certainly be a curmudgeon to say that I don’t like this, some of it works really rather well, whilst some is merely intrusive nonsense.

So that is where I stand, every time I see the show, and I have seen it many many times, previous productions and performances will inform my view.

The current touring production is amongst the best, the staging is excellent as are the costumes and the cast are well drilled both in delivering the script and dealing with the onslaught of audience involvement. The choreography is first rate and the lighting is sensational and “Damnit Janet”, the packed theatre goes wild for it from start to finish.

Did I? Well of course I did, what’s not to love about seeing our beautiful Theatre Royal packed to the gunnels again. No doubt in our post, or is that mid, COVID world, we are likely to see a lot of crowd pleasing productions with names that will guarantee full houses, it will surely be one way to recovery of our much damaged theatre scene.

“Rocky” is very much dependant on a bravura performance in the role of Frank N Furter and by the second half Stephen Webb certainly rises to the challenge after a somewhat trepidatious start, his American drawl softens and his inner sissy seems to emerge far more convincingly.

Kristian Lavercombe is every scrawny inch the Riff Raff we want to see and his voice is hauntingly eerie. Haley Flaherty’s Janet is perfect, prim and petite lurching into permissive and pervy. Ore Oduba is the big surprise of the evening, perhaps included for his presence in Strictly Come Dancing but more than proving his worth as he masters the role, the dancing, ensemble presence and he shows off a rather fine voice too.

But the high spot of the evening has to be the presence of Phillip Franks as the narrator. It’s a tricky role, the one that attracts the most audience feedback and one that requires the quickest of wits to counter those heckles. Franks had it all, the best put downs, the sharpest political jibes, the filthiest retorts and the whole delivered with aplomb, it was masterful.

There we have it, I’ve lost count now of how many times I have seen this but I will no doubt go again and again and again.

Andrew Kay

29 November

Theatre Royal Brighton

Rating: ★★★★☆


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