REVIEW: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (New Wimbledon Theatre) ★★★★★
When discussing the creation of his trail blazing musical The Rocky Horror Show, Richard O’Brien once said “glam rock allowed me to be myself more.” Since it’s initial London production at the Royal Court Theatre (Upstairs) in 1973, The Rocky Horror Show has seen various international productions spanning across six continents, West End and Broadway revivals, eight UK tours, a major motion picture, a television film, a live cinema broadcast and has gained one of the biggest cult followings worldwide; proving indefinitely that O’Brien’s B-grade glam rock musical celebrating giving yourself over to absolute pleasure, transvestism and aliens has allowed audiences to be themselves more for decades. Returning in a new 2019 world tour, audiences can once again don fishnets, leather, newspapers and water guns and do the time warp again at the New Wimbledon Theatre for a limited time!
Newly engaged couple Brad and Janet decide to visit their old science teacher but get a flat tyre on the way. To get out of the rain, they visit a castle inhabited by aliens and meet transsexual Frank-N-Furter who has created a muscle man named Rocky. After both sleeping with Frank-N-Furter, they attempt to leave but get drugged and stay to perform a fabulous floor show. Shortly afterwards alien mutiny ensues and Brad and Janet narrowly escape as the castle takes off and is rocketed back to home planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. It’s a tale as old as time, really.
As Brad, Ben Adams gives a strong performance and his boyband poppy higher notes fit the straight-laced (but adaptable) Brad very well. Joanne Clifton’s Janet is a joy and her ‘Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch Me’ and ‘Floor Show’ vocals served some fierce Alice Ripley riffs that were very impressive. As Frank-N-Furter, Stephen Webb gave a powerful performance. Opting for an American accent rather than the traditional Queens English, his Frank was fresh, cute and devilishly delicious. As a gymnast, Callum Evans flipped and jumped all over the stage as Rocky, which was a wonderful added bonus to his solid vocal performance. As the Usherette Laura Harrison is the first and last actor the audience sees on stage and she performed the beautifully written ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature’ with aplomb and her Magenta was vocally impressive especially in her verse in The Time Warp. Miracle Chance as Columbia gave a fun performance and her “sponge speech” during the second act received a round of applause from the audience which was very well deserved. Ross Chisari as Eddie/Dr. Scott was so much fun to watch onstage. As a very attractive Eddie, it was easy to see why Frank created him (maybe it wasn’t just a “mental relationship” after all) and Chisari’s Dr. Scott was performed with a real sense of fun. Vocally outstanding, Chisari brought a cheeky youthful exuberance to both parts which was refreshing and a joy to watch. The Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show has a tough job, as the most heckled actor onstage he needs a thick skin and quick improvisation skills to handle the many taunts the audience throws at him. Dom Joly copes extremely well even when asked by the audience to describe his genitalia “heavy, black and pendulous” which he replies from the script. Kristian Lavercombe has performed in numerous productions of The Rocky Horror Show around the world, has played Frank, Brad and Riff Raff and has notched up over 1400 performances of the show. Expertly sung and acted Lavercombe’s energetic sprite-like performance of Riff Raff, really is the glue that quietly holds the production together. Bravo!
As a celebration of diversity, Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show at the New Wimbledon Theatre is a wonderful production of a much-loved piece of musical theatre. With powerful vocals, expertly performed characters and cheeky audience participation this production is a party from start to finish. Give yourself over to absolute pleasure, see it again or break your ‘Rocky ‘virginity’ seeing it for the first time. Whatever you do, book to see The Rocky Horror Show today!
Reviewed by Stuart James
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