WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Theatre Royal Brighton RUN TIME: 2 hours (including interval)
WHEN?: 14/12/18 (matinee), runs to 5/1/19, and then tours regionally
The Rocky Horror Show has been performed in over 30 countries in every continent and translated into more than 20 languages.
- Read on for reasons including how a Strictly Come Dancing winner is this production’s surprise
This production, directed by Christopher Luscombe (Nell Gwynn, Shakespeare’s Globe and Apollo) has toured for the last 13 years including 3 seasons in the West End.
We caught it when it was at the Playhouse Theatre with David Bedella especially memorable as Sweet Transvestite Frank’n’Furter who is at the centre of the action as Adam and Eve-like innocents Brad and Janet drop by his mansion unexpectedly.
This version runs in Brighton until January before embarking on a 10-month tour at 13 new venues.
It’s the day of the Strictly Come Dancing final and our 1st surprise here is that 2016 winner Joanne Clifton (pictured above) (sister of 2018 winner Kevin Clifton) is a more accomplished singer and actress than we would have expected as leading lady Janet.
Her uptight and bespectacled partner Brad is well played by A1’s Ben Adams (pictured above, who co-wrote the tunetastic Eugenius at the Other Palace this year) and gets the best out of some of the show’s lesser known numbers.
Elsewhere Callum Evans makes for an impressively gymnastic Rocky and Stephen Webb is a suitably charismatic Frank.
What’s so impressive about this production is that it allows its audience to participate and interject with well-known and quite filthy ad libs.
So when narrator Dom Joly asks: ‘What’s over?’ and an audience member shouts out: ‘Your career!’ his cheeky acknowledgement of the remark sums up much of the shared fun that is being had by both cast and audience here.
An audience member comments at the interval that it is the audience interjections that are actually funnier than the actual script and it is this embracing of the audience’s spirit and enthusiasm that is in part key to this production’s success.
The message about being yourself is relevant now but must have been incendiary when Rocky was 1st staged upstairs at the Royal Court in 1973.
The arrival of Frank during Sweet Transvestite is our favourite show moment and it is cannily repeated in a prolonged encore which also boasts a reprise of biggest hit Let’s Do the Timewarp.
So this is far from a (Rocky) horror show and is actually a joyous way to spend 2 hours in the company of a boisterous and up-for-it audience many of whom have dressed as characters from the show.