If there’s one thing to be said about Rocky Horror fans, it’s that they are supremely dedicated. Whilst touring the country in its 40th Anniversary Party Production, the infamous show has currently crash landed at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley, where I find myself sat next to a young lad (who can only be in his late teens) ‘dressed’ just in a pair of gold hot pants. I begin to wonder as a Rocky Horror amateur just what I have let myself in for. I’d seen the film of course, but never on the stage, which Richard O’Brien’s script is built for in its new production.
The wacky show with a massive cult following tells the story of Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple whose car breaks down during a thunderstorm, and they come across an isolated castle to seek help. During their visit, they encounter Frank N. Furter, a self-proclaimed “Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania” who believes he has the secret to creating life, and who turns the innocent couple’s lives on their heads entirely, leading them on a sexual, sci-fi journey.
Director Christopher Luscombe hits the nail on the head with this new production; it has all the classic, famous scenes, but feels a little more updated, and the cast (and audience) thrive on the great direction. Dani Harmer as Janet gives us a twee yet strong performance, and I think she can safely say that she has shed the skin of her children’s TV past after this role. Sam Attwater gives a great turn as Brad, as do the chorus of servants and shadows, and Riff-Raff and Magenta are both in possession of some rather cracking voices. It wouldn’t be right to review Rocky Horror and not mention Frank, the mad scientist. Oliver Thornton has the audience eating out the palm of his hand from start to finish and, coupled with a pair of legs to die for, creates a Frank that will surely be remembered just as Tim Curry’s original is, 40 years later. The other notable presence in the show is Philip Franks’s narrator, a bundle of wit who thrives off the audience’s participation and improvisation, providing some of the best lines of the night.
The show, so relevant today, still has so much to say; it’s loud in all senses– but this is a rock show after all, and the audience were on their feet dancing within 15 minutes. The lighting design by Nick Richings is great; by projecting lasers over the audience, it makes them feel a part of the show and ready to party.
It’s great to see that the barmy plot hasn’t lost its charm over 40 years. It might not be a show to take your mother to, but does provide a great evening entertainment oozing filth, comedy, and a party atmosphere.
The Rocky Horror Show is playing The Churchill Theatre, Bromley until 1 June 2013. For more information and tickets, see ATG Tickets website.