REVIEW: ROCKY HORROR SHOW (New Wimbledon Theatre)

Rocky Horror Show

Rocky Horror Show – “It’s just a jump to the left. And then a step to the right. Put your hands on your hips, and bend your knees in time…”

Everyone knows how to do the Time Warp (again) but how many people could tell you what happens in Act II? It’s strange but although Act I of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is full of great songs and audience participation, Act II can be a bit of a letdown unless you really get in the spirit of things.

Last time I saw this show I was personally heckled by Ainsley Harriot, so there was a lot of pressure on the new cast to live up to that previous experience. Happily, this production (directed by Christopher Luscombe) did not disappoint.

Rocky Horror Show

Brad (Ben Freeman) and Janet (Diana Vickers) are newly engaged sweethearts off to visit a friend when their car breaks down… So they head to a nearby castle (obviously) to ask for help. However, the castle belongs to Frank N’ Furter (Liam Tamne) and all is not what it seems…

Whenever you go to see this show, there’s the important question – do we dress up? I was in two minds, but with 20 minutes until I had to leave the house, I was filled with inspiration. I grabbed a sequinned dress, fishnets and a bowler hat and didn’t hold back with the eyeliner. As for the rest of the audience, well there were some fantastic costumes and SO MANY SEQUINS. Fabulous. A lot of people played the ‘I was at work all day’ card, while others had a few props, but this didn’t matter, because once a few of us started to join in, everyone else followed suit and even the men in suits removed their ties and let loose.

The Narrator (Steve Punt) was completely unfazed by the heckles, retorts and comebacks that were thrown at him, responding wittily to both the predictable and original comments. I think it’s safe to say that he loved it.

Freeman and Vickers are both adorable as the young heroes, with strong vocal performances, while Lauren Ingram as Columbia (understudy) manages to portray cute and insane with a surprising amount of humour. Kay Murphy is a suitably lascivious Magenta and Kristian Lavercombe manages to combine creepy and amusing as Riff Raff. Dominic Andersen (Rocky) is beautiful. And sparkly. Lush.

Liam Tamne rightly steals the show. Fans of the film will recognise elements of Tim Curry in his performance, but his interpretation of the role is still unique: grotesque but sexy; arrogant yet pitiable.

With a fantastic band and some classic songs, including Science Fiction, Dammit Janet, Sweet Transvestite, plus the one and only Time Warp, this is so much more than a show – it is a true theatrical experience.

The standing ovation was much deserved and we all did the Time Warp (again, and again). The only criticism is that it was too short, meaning that the audience were far too polite to heckle on a Monday night!

Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes

The Rocky Horror Show is playing at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 5 March 2016 and then continues on its UK Tour

Read my interviews with Ben Freeman and Diana Vickers about The Rocky Horror Show