At 23-years-old I can admit that before last night I’d never seen the Rocky Horror Show – film or stage version. A big musical theatre fan I thought I knew what I was getting myself into…
Walking into the New Alexandra Theatre with my Mum, I was pretty sure we had a great night ahead of us; now don’t get me wrong, we had a good time, I’ve just never experienced the wackiness that came with Richard O’Brien’s production. But I knew one thing, if it was anything like his time hosting The Crystal Maze, it was going to be weird – I wasn’t wrong.
We sat down in the classy piano bar sipping on our pre-show drinks, a pretty normal situation until numerous people began to strut past us in fishnet stockings, tight outfits, short skirts and predominately black heels – men included – and we hadn’t even entered the auditorium yet. Yep, it was The Crystal Maze weird.
It started off the same way as many other theatre productions (minus the woman sat two rows in front of us wearing what I can only describe as her pyjamas.) We were introduced to the loved-up couple, Brad and Janet, played by Richard Meek and Haley Flaherty, who opened with an upbeat number about how head-over-heels in love they were with each other. Yet their story wasn’t destined to be lovey-dovey, for a dramatic thunderstorm took them back on their journey to the castle of mysterious Frank-N-Furter after their car breaks down.
If you too haven’t seen the Rocky Horror Show before then I must warn you of a few things. One: if you’re easily offended by men in fishnet tights, a lot of skin on show and crude jokes, you might want to steer away from this, two: it’s all about audience participation, and finally, don’t take your children!
We quickly learned that heckles are key – especially when The Narrator (Steve Punt) was speaking. Heckles which I might add would break the boundaries of my PG review if I was to repeat them on here.
Within the first 15 minutes we’d witnessed Punt crack a joke about Donald Trump, a member of the audience put forward a rather raunchy suggestion as what Brad and Janet needed to give their flat tire, and a good percentage of the audience getting up to do the Time Warp.
We spent a great amount of time laughing the creative hecklers, who seemed to know exactly what to say and when to say it – to an absolute tee I might add! Punt and the rest of the cast did incredibly well to keep straight faces and get the job done in what I can only describe as a hilarious and challenging situation. If you’re like me and you like a good bit of banter, then it’ll win you over with that alone.
It’s only when we journeyed into the lab at the castle of Frank, played by former contestant on The Voice, Liam Tamne, that things start to take a seriously weird turn. After introducing himself as the ‘sweet transvestite’ he unveiled his latest creation, Rocky Horror (Dominic Anderson). If there’s one thing I have to say about this show, it’s that you have to have some serious guts to walk out onto a stage in front of a 100 plus people in just a pair of gold boots and some leopard print pants!
As wacky as it is, it’s not long before the dark side of the Rocky Horror Show is unmasked, but it’s cleverly covered up with a fantastic cast, incredible singing, rather raunchy dancing and an X-rated opening to the second half that made me really question whether I was actually watching a theatre show or something completely different.
Rocky Horror Show has won countless awards over the years and it seems that audiences around the country can’t get enough of the cult classic. And whilst I must admit that it wasn’t really to my taste, I have to applaud it for the sheer madness, creativity, extravagance and dedication of the following it has gained over the years.
Rocky Horror Show runs at the New Alexandra until Saturday October 15