11 August 2021

Rocky Horror Show Review

The Rocky Horror Show has been delighting audiences for 48 years and now the production has arrived at The Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham for the week as part of the show's latest World Tour.


Richard O'Brien's cult classic show continues to fill the auditoria with people dressed up as their favourite characters in the show - the dedication people go-to is a joy and creates such a buzz in the theatre before the performance has even begun. The genius is with the material, even after all those years it's not tired, it feels alive still and will for many many years to come.


The Rocky Horror cast. Photo by Dave Freeman.

For those unfamiliar with the story (where have you been!), we follow a freshly engaged virgin couple, Brad and Janet, who on their way to see their old Science Tutor, suffer their car breaking down. They seek solace in "a castle they passed down the road a few miles" but that castle just happens to belong to Transsexual Transylvanian Frank 'N' Furter and his maniacal gang of servants. They arrive on a rather special night as Frank's new creature is about to be born. Throughout the night Brad and Janet both end up tasting "forbidden fruit" before things take a drastic turn as Act Two reaches its climax. It's as joyously bonkers as I've probably just made it sound.


Chris Luscombe returns to helm the show as director, as he has been for some 15 years now. Much is unchanged in terms of the design from the last few UK incarnations. The set is still the same design as previously with Hugh Durrant's cinematic feel with the use of various props to filling the stage. Sue Blane's costumes are instantly recognisable and continue to add to the sexiness of the show. 


Nick Richings's lighting design is thrilling, especially in the front row (although at times from our seats it was very in your face bright!). There are some gorgeous lighting choices, with a particular highlight for me being in 'Superheroes' towards the latter end of Act Two. The sound design by Gareth Owen is pitched perfectly - it's LOUD on the front row with one of the speakers directly in front of us in our seats. Greg Arrowsmith and the other 4 members of the band make a wonderful sound throughout.


The company is led by Stephen Webb who returns to don the heels of Frank 'N' Furter. Right from his unforgettable entrance with the number "Sweet Transvestite" he delights as the iconic character. He has such a wonderful vocal tone too and makes Frank both wild and heartfelt especially as he sings "I'm Going Home". Webb enthusiastically captures the exuberant sex appeal of the role as he strides confidently around the stage.


Ore Oduba will surprise some with his charming vocal range as his stage career continues to flourish as Brad. He captures that geeky awkward side of the role really well. Haley Flaherty is another who returns to the production once again playing Janet. It's been some 12 years since I first saw her perform this part and she continues to be so perfectly cast. She nails every beat of the character's arc throughout and with such a strong vocal range too. The pair together capture the relationship of the two to great effect.


Lauren Ingram, Suzie McAdam, Haley Flaherty, Ore Oduba, and Kristian Lavercombe. Photo by Dave Freeman.

One of the things that makes Rocky Horror a unique experience is the audience participation (those who attend for the first time may find this a bit daunting or unusual but it adds to the thrill of the show), much of that participation comes through the Narrator, here played by an outstanding Philip Franks. Franks right from his first scene is hilarious and he quips back to the audience's shout-outs to uproarious laughter. I have seen Rocky Horror over the years some 60 + times and of all the narrators I've seen I think he is probably the best. He looks like he's relishing every moment of being back on stage again too.


Kristian Lavercombe also returns to the show and the role of Riff Raff - a role he's played more than anyone in the show's history and you can see why. He IS this character on stage. His manner and the way he moves are fabulous right from his first entrance. He sings up a storm, his verse in "Over at the Frankenstein's Place" is always a treat to hear and he leads "The Time Warp" with pure unbridled joy. Lauren Ingram as Columbia moves with great ability and emotes the feeling of the role with such sweetness and light, and she gets a cracking moment in the second act after she's gassed by Riff Raff prior to the floor show. Suzie McAdam's outstanding voice and presence as Magenta, her voice is powerful. She plays the sexiness really well too (as do all the cast). McAdam also plays the Usherette who bookends the show with "Science Fiction Double Feature" and its reprise. Both Ingram and McAdam sing with real power.


Joe Allen really only gets a minimum time to shine but he takes those opportunities and makes them unforgettable with first his rock and rolling Eddie in the first act and then as science tutor Dr. Scott in the second act. Ben Westhead's Rocky is the typically perfect action man type, he instantly has the women whooping and cheering as the creature is born in "The Sword of Damocles", he captures that freshly made lostness of the role well considering how he's joined the company late due to an unfortunate injury to Callum Evans. 


Completing the company are Reece Budin, Darcy Finden, Jordan Fox, and Rachel Grundy, all of whom play Phantoms - who are more background characters but this doesn't mean they don't stand out. You just have to watch them for all they bring to the production, further enhancing the whole feel and the setting. They are all in fine voice which adds a great texture to the sound of the numbers. 


Nathan M Wright's energetic choreography is performed with flair and ability by all the company - obviously, The Time Warp and subsequent curtain call reprises have the audience out their seats and joining in the much adored number. Andrew Ahern has done a sterling job of getting Nathan's vision back on stage for this tour.


Rocky Horror continues to be a hot ticket, it's as fresh as ever, it's sexy, wild, uplifting, bonkers and truly perfect escapism. If you need a show to get completely lost in after the last 17 months or so then Rocky Horror couldn't be a better one to choose. 2 hours of pure joy.


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ an astonishing production, grab your outfit and your tickets for an unmissable night at the theatre.


Rocky Horror continues at The Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham until Sunday 15th August - for tickets visit here. The productions tours the UK and Ireland and internationally thereafter - for full tour dates visit here.


The Rocky Horror Company. Photo by Dave Freeman.

Post a Comment

© Beyond the Curtain. Design by soleilflare.