Reviewed by Cliff Homewood
I have seen The Rocky Horror Show many a time. Have seen Tim McInnery and Jason Donovan as Frank N’Furter and Adrian Edmonson as Brad. This current production has no recognisable face but is the best adaptation I have seen.
The set wasn’t the best, but perfectly perfunctory and works well. In a previous London stage version, they actually had a car prop on stage, perhaps I was spoilt.
Joe McFadden as the narrator is excellent, working off the audience and adlibbing. A joy to be in his presence. Most Frank N’Furters are a slight disappointment, having seen Tim Curry’s definitive performance on film. Stephen Webb made the role his own. He took glee in the role, relaxed and having fun thus just becoming Frank. The fact he doesn’t look dissimilar to Tim Curry helps. Occasionally corpsing at audience reactions made him more endearing and helped create a all having fun together atmosphere. Which is what this version really brings. The filthiest version I have seen and thus the funniest. Just don’t bring your parents!
Darcy Finden as Columbia stands out in her cameo scene, we really feel her pain, driving home the reality of her dialogue about using people. She follows this with a bravura bit of OTT performance as she gets high. A definite scene stealing performance although Frank dominates the rest as is right. Riff Raff and Columbia both carry the distinctive voices we know from the film as do all the cast. Played to perfection.
The sex scenes are elongated to good comedic effect, with a hilarious addition. As is usual with this show the second half is a bit of a mess, but that’s Rocky Horror, to be enjoyed not pored over. I was surprised that the finale made me quite emotional for the first time I can remember.
It’s amazing that this show came out in 1973, must have been shocking in its day. It still feels current now with its transvestite hero. As time has gone on what is allowable has progressed so that now the show, with the right audience, is absolutely filthy. A lot of the shout outs seemed to be variations of the word cock. Health and Safety however means things aren’t thrown at the stage like they once were.
The story is rather clever in how it follows the horror film template but instead of the corruption being horror based is sex based, which makes it much more fun, original, and universal. The spin on Frankenstein with Frank building his own man who alas turns out to be straight also is a great idea.
Full of good songs and good raunchy comedy the 50th Anniversary tour of Rocky Horror is probably the best version you can see without watching the film. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the film of the show (notice the addition of ‘Picture’ to the title) and it shows. Its natural medium is the stage. The film does however record the definitive cast and with midnight showings created this phenomenon.
See if you can.
Tour dates and venues can be found here: https://rockyhorror.co.uk/tour-dates