By midlandsmovies, Jul 5 2016 10:51AM
Cult horror picture show is glorious and rocking
Heading down to Leicester’s Curve Theatre on a subdued Monday evening the promotional blurb for The Rocky Horror Picture Show warned tonight’s audience that “this show has rude parts” and there certainly were lots of nods to “parts”.
For the uninitiated like myself, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a 1973 musical stage production that subsequently became a cult phenomenon when it was translated to film in 1975. Created by Crystal-Mazer Richard O'Brien, the film parodies science fiction and B-movie horrors with a huge splash of campy (and vampy!) sex in the mix. Other than a few cursory watches of the film and drunkenly attempting one of the film’s signature songs “The Time Warp” at many a wedding, I came with little knowledge of the production as a whole.
The rock ‘n’ roll musical started with a bang as a young couple, Janet and Brad (played by X-Factorer Diana Vickers and the impressive Richard Meek) break down in their car and head to a strange castle to seek help. Discovering mad scientist/alien transvestite Frank N. Furter, the couple get embroiled in an experiment to create a muscle-man in a laboratory before being seduced separately and eventually released.
Infamously, the film gained notoriety with re-showings in New York as fans rediscovered its unconventional charms by interacting with dialogue and attending screenings dressed as characters. This showing proved that legacy was still going strong as the large foyer of theatre contained a throng of made-up audience members. It’s been said the film’s costumes directly impacted the development of punk music fashion trends such as ripped fishnets and dyed hair and there were plenty of both in the stalls tonight.
This new 2016 tour has already smashed records across the UK and is anchored by a flamboyant and gaudy performance by Liam Tamne (from BBC’s The Voice) as Frank N. Furter. Channelling the film’s eccentric version honed by Tim Curry plus a whole lot more, his extravagant singing and dancing was a glitzy highlight. This theatrical production also allowed much more than just quoting along with the lines too. As fans shouted out responses to dialogue, the actors responded back with newly created and semi-improvised quips. The master of these was Norman Pace (of Hale & Pace fame) who played the narrator with gusto and kept things from going (too far) off the rails. Although by the end (spoiler) even he was wearing fishnets and suspenders!
The flashy stage visuals complimented the madness of the crazy characters with colourful neon and Day-Glo lighting plus plenty of added smoke to the seedy proceedings. The up-tempo music hits (such as Sweet Transvestite and Dammit Janet) were especially well-played by the production’s band and at the same time a chorus of supporting actors (including S Club 7’s Paul Cattermole) had equally perfect roles and sublime timing. The naughty content may be a bit crude for those with a prudish disposition but the outrageousness is definitely part of the show’s lurid appeal.
From the costumes (or lack of) to the pelvic thrusting, a particular highlight for me was the seduction of Janet and Brad by Frank N. Furter. With an upright bed prop forming a kitsch Punch-and-Judy-esque “booth”, the coarse humour reached its comical climax in more ways than one with under-the-sheets fondling and appropriate oral sound effects delivered by various actors’ mouths.
Historically, the famous film is full of fun, filth and flesh and this performance maintained that zaniness and then some. Ending with a full theatre dancing to the Time Warp (for a second time) the show is immensely entertaining and my smiles matched the actors as they gave their bows at the end. With endless naughty pleasures throughout, I’d recommend the stupendous show in all its garish glory.
Midlands Movies Mike
Catch the show from July 4th to July 9th and for further tour info check the official site: http://rockyhorror.co.uk/cast