For those who’ve never seen Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show before, it can be summed up in three words: crazy, catchy and confusing.
In fact, the plot is so baffling and nonsensical that it is hard to explain. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, the story starts with girl next door, Janet (Haley Flaherty) and her new fiancé, Brad (Ore Oduba) having to take shelter from the rain in a spooky castle in the middle of nowhere – which never exactly ends well. There they meet various strange characters including servants, Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe) and Magenta (Suzie McAdam) and of course, the charismatic, confident and ambiguous in every way possible, Frank N Furter played by the incredible, Stephen Webb.
Frank N Furter is a mad scientist and he unveils his newest experiment to everyone in the form of Rocky, an artificial human played by Ben Westhead. From there, relationships are formed, broken and chaos ensues.
Despite the constant plot twists and turns, the production suits the 1950s sci-fi meets low budget horror style down to the ground and the cast pull off every number with ease, particularly fan favourites ‘Time Warp’ which has the audience out of their seats dancing along and ‘Touch-a, touch-a, touch-a, touch me’ in which Westhead and Flaherty bounce off each other brilliantly.
Phillip Franks as the narrator brings constant comedy to his lines, improvising with current anecdotes that has the audience cheering and clapping every time he walks on stage and Lauren Ingram as Columbia has a great standout scene where it’s surprising she’s able to keep a straight face by the end of it.
There’s copious innuendo and is a mature show in every aspect. But it is also refreshing to see gender and sexual fluidity completely normalised and not treated as a joke or gag in the show.
The costumes by Sue Blane are flawless, with each one looking tailored to perfection, capturing each character and personality and it’s fascinating to see how the costumes become more edgy and dark as the show does too.
By the end, the constant back and forth dialogue and hard to follow storyline becomes slightly tiresome but Stephen Webb captures the audience entirely and is the perfect Frank N Furter, which means any small critiques can be brushed aside.
Funny, raunchy and packed with a talented cast, The Rocky Horror Show is guaranteed to make you laugh and leave with a smile on your face even if you have no idea how to describe what you just experienced.
The Rocky Horror Show is at The Palace Theatre, Manchester from 17-22 January 2022 and touring until July.
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