Theatre Review: Theatre Royal: Rocky Horror Show

Graham Robson December 29, 2012

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The Rocky Horror Show’s 40th Anniversary production at the Theatre Royal, truly rises to the occasion with enough gusto to bely its 40 years.

The kinky tale tells the story of a newly engaged couple getting caught in a storm.

Naturally, their car breaks down….

In need of a phone, the hapless duo come across a spooky castle, home to the debauched Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a pan-sexual, cross-dressing mad scientist portrayed by a strapping Oliver Thornton, who while lacking Tim Curry’s demented insanity, makes up for it with a whole load of lip puckered gyrating.

Appearing to welcome his guests, Thornton, whips off his Dracula cape, serenading the party with Sweet Transvestite, a song filled with such raw sex appeal that the audience and cast beg for some of his ‘anticipation’.

As the Narrator, Philip Franks gives directions for a pelvic-thrusting TimeWarp, which had the house flailing in the aisles feather boas aloft. The repartee between Franks and the audience was handled with great humour, and never deviated too far to derail the pacing of the action.

WEB.378.rocky1The initial set design of cartoonish cut-outs rotated by masked phantoms, is countered by the velvety opulence of Frank-N-Furter’s castle. The laboratory scenes parodied science fiction and horror B movies, complete with naff gadgets, lasers and a television monitor that needs some imagination from the audience of casual and super-fans alike, many of whom where donned in suspenders, corsets and feather boas for the night, breaking through the bars of their ordinary life and succumbing to an evening of utter debauchery.

Like lambs to the slaughter, the sexually repressed Brad and Janet, were performed with just the right amount of all-American values gone mad. Roxanne Pallette (Emmerdale) was slinky as good-girl-gone-bad Janet, whilst Ben Forster triumphed as the clueless Brad, her nerdy bespectacled partner.

Following a sexual encounter with Frank-N-Furter in an up-standing bed, an ecstatic Janet performs Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me, to the eponymous Rocky, X-Factor star, Rhydian, who as Frank-N-Furter’s creature of the night, creation and ‘lover of orgasms’ was all to pleased to comply.

Abigail Jaye was taunting as fan-favourite and now raven-haired Magenta whose crazy bird’s nest hairstyle harks back to the Bride of Frankenstein. Together with Kristian Lavercome’s Riff Raff, the hunchbacked master of Frank-N-Furter, she plotted and calculated, culminating in an hilarious return to their home planet of Transsexual, in the galaxy of Transylvania.

Orgiastic parties take control during the ensemble piece Rose Tint My World, which sees a corseted Brad, Janet, Rocky and Columbia, a groupie whose hyper-activity was performed bang on by Ceris Hyne, sing of how they’ve benefited, or not, from Frank-N-Furter’s influence.

After nearly 40 years, The Rocky Horror Show has suffered little more than a ladder in its tights, and is still a license to strip away the mundanity of daily life and slip into something a bit more comfortable.

The Rocky Horror Show is on at The Theatre Royal in Brighton until January 5, 2013.

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