Rocky Horror Show
Brighton Theatre Royal
Reviewed – 18th December 2018
“It remains, at its heart, simply a bit of fun – and it delivers that in abundance“
Since its debut in London in 1973, The Rocky Horror Show has been performed almost continuously across the world. The iconic 1975 film adaptation’s success and enduring appeal has sealed it firmly into the fabric of our modern pop culture. The Rocky Horror Show famously combines a ridiculous B-movie science fiction plot with comedy, horror and music.
The story begins with the engagement of Brad and Janet (played by Ben Adams of A1 and former Strictly professional Joanna Clifton), a wholesome all-American couple, who on their way to share their exciting news with their former college professor, Dr. Scott (Ross Chisari), drive into a thunderstorm. Following a tyre blow-out, they approach a nearby castle for assistance. It is a night they will remember for a very, very long time.
As their innocence is lost during one of the master’s affairs, Brad and Janet are introduced to an array of colourful characters. Clifton’s Janet is sweet, naïve and precious, which brings a gentle comedy to the character. Adams’ Brad is as ingenuous, but his desire to protect and control Janet only makes him more ridiculous.
Kristian Lavercombe has been playing Riff Raff the creepy butler for many years, and has notched up over 1,400 performances worldwide. It is an iconic role, originally played by the show’s writer and creator, Richard O’Brien, and is a fan favourite. Lavercombe’s interpretation is near on perfection. He is as deliciously grubby and sleazy as you could wish for. I hope he continues in the role for evermore.
Immoral and outrageous transvestite scientist, Frank n’ Furter has to steal the show. Stephen Webb, directed by Christopher Luscombe, is salacious and mischievous. At times, it feels as if there is too strong an emphasis on giving a depth to the character that is not entirely necessary.
Dom Joly presides as Narrator, who is traditionally heckled by the audience in an outrageously rude fashion. He does an adequate job of rebuffing the relentless jibes, but seemed to lack the repertoire of retorts that others have previously brought to the role.
Set designer, Hugh Durrant has created a background that is framed by an unfurling, giant reel of film. Frank n’Furter’s hallway gives us a gothic style that is reminiscent of a Hammer Horror movie. The lighting felt very fresh with dramatic use of green lasers during the laboratory scenes.
The Rocky Horror show is always a riot. The audience is packed with regulars who know the script and are not ashamed to shout out or stand up and dance. There is little regard for their fellow audience members and some may find it all too much. But, this is all part of the phenomenon and the experience. Its enduring popularity shows no signs of waning and its near constant presence means that it continues to be enjoyed by new audiences as well. It remains, at its heart, simply a bit of fun – and it delivers that in abundance.
Reviewed by Emma Gradwell
Rocky Horror Show
Brighton Theatre Royal until 5th January
then UK Tour continues