An advocate for less rigid gender roles as the guys rock the corsets, heels and suspenders just as much as the gals, The Rocky Horror Show remains a timeless cult classic decades after its debut. Unapologetically outlandish, it continues to shock and delight with weird and wonderful hits like ‘Don’t Dream it, be it’ that have wormed their way into mainstream music and stayed put. It hasn’t stayed completely in a time warp though, as the narrator, played by Heartbeat’s Philip Franks poked fun at everything from Brexit to the home secretary keeping the crowd in stitches, even more so with his quick, stand-up style quips. Also beautifully done was the artful and imaginative set, with transitions so seamless I often didn’t notice the change until we were transported to a whole new place. The live band recreating the renowned soundtrack was visible above the stage which was another nicely authentic touch.
It struck me, when taking my seat, that one can only call themselves an authentic musical fan after having experienced the fantastical chaos of the one and only Rocky Horror Show. Even in a small town, the performance boasted the most colourful and diverse audience of any show, with many ‘sweet transvestites’ and a vast array of glitzy hats and jackets on show. To the extent, in my plain clothes, I felt like a vegetable aisle next to the supermarket pick ’n’ mix counter!
One drawback from having such a massive following was that many fans knew the script by heart and were keen to shout out the next lines, slightly spoiling the twists and turns. Bags were also checked on entry for evidence of items such as rice, toast and toilet rolls which could be thrown on stage. It really is that wild.
Once any prudishness has long disappeared and you’re no longer terrified of what is to become of the bewildered teens when they are escorted to Frank’s laboratory, you can start to roll with it and enjoy this dream-like production in all its glorious madness. But just when you think you may have seen it all, a synthetic being in leopard-print budgie smugglers may pop out whilst another in leathers is chased by a chainsaw-happy Frank. Yes, you read that right.
Whilst the close to the bone kinkiness is the core essence of the musical, it is not for everyone. As Janet and Brad’s innate sexual desires are awakened and subsequently given in to, and the dance routines get more and more erotic, it is no exaggeration to be recommended for over 12s as the young family on the row in front of me discovered slightly too late. They didn’t make it to the second half.
Disco, rock ‘n’ roll, burlesque, horror, comedy (and so much more) collide in an epic fusion of theatre at its proudest and most original. Don’t dream it, see it!