The ultimate in cult musicals returned to The Alex, Birmingham last night, bringing its unique brand of wicked naughtiness. Richard O’ Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is a musical like no other, with an audience who heckle virtually every word, jump to its feet midway through to do ‘The Timewarp’ all the time enjoying every single mucky minute. If you’ve never seen it before, it’s a shock to the system, one that leaves you laughing out loud and gasping with shock. In short, It’s a hoot!
Based on those late night double features that played at cinema’s during the 1950s, The Rocky Horror Show is a pastiche on B Movies of the Science Fiction and horror variety. Squeaky Clean, All American couple Brad and Janet break down in the middle of nowhere on their way home from a wedding. They walk to the nearest property, which just happens to be a rather sinister castle housed by a strange motley crew that includes Riff-Raff, a butler/manservant, Magenta and Columbia. They just want to use the telephone, but when the head of the house, the tale, suspender and stocking clad Frank-N-Furter, makes an appearance, they are destined to be taken on a journey of sexual decadence from which they will never recover.
Strictly Winner Ore Oduba and Haley Flaherty play Brad and Janet beautifully, almost as if they have emerged direct from the 1950s, all apple pie and ‘hi honey I’m home’. Flaherty is a brilliant American sweetheart, she is just perfectly cast for the wide eyed, innocent Janet who quickly becomes corrupted by Frank, whilst Oduba is a perfect, straight laced, straight faced Brad, losing his morals along with his trousers.
Stephen Webb, who I admired so much in Jersey Boys, is a stunning Frank-N-Furter, totally vamping it up as the sweet transvestite from Transexual Transylvania. When he is on the stage your eyes are on him, his lithe movement and knowing vocals and side eyes are mesmerising. Webb is ably supported by Suzie McAdam as the slinky Magenta, permanently in a state of sexual tension, Lauren Ingram as Columbia, a pocket rocket with an incredible high octane vocal performance, and the brilliant Kristian Lavercombe who returns as Riff Raff, leading the cast in the superb classic, ‘The Timewarp’.
The Timewarp is a definite highlight, with the audience jumping to its feet, but there are plenty of other scenes to enjoy. The scenes of Brad and Janet in bed with Frank-N-Furter are super funny and rude and caused much hilarity amongst the audience. The unveiling of Rocky (Ben Westhead – another great performance, and certainly a scene stealer in leopard print pants) and then another, eye-catching, scene stealing turn from Joe Allen as Eddie, threaten to set the stage alight with sheer exhilaration. And the audience itself become another star of the show, as they constantly join in, heckle and finish the sentences of the narrator, the brilliant Philip Franks, who is well up to the ad-libbing challenge and keeps it topical with asides about the fuel crisis, and Boris and Carrie (or Miss Piggy, as he refers to her as.)
Brash, vulgar and naughty, all in the worst possible taste and all the better for it, The Rocky Horror Show is something you should add to the bucket list and see at least once in your life!
The Rocky Horror Show
Tuesday 28 September – Saturday 2 October
Tickets from £13 (transaction fees apply)