Richard O Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is currently celebrating it’s 50th anniversary with another UK tour.
The tour stars Stephen Webb (Wonderland) as Frank N Furter, Rocky veteran Haley Flaherty’s return as Janet, Richard Meek (Hairspray) as Brad & Ben Westhead as Rocky in his first professional adult UK tour.
While it shouldn’t need any introduction, the story of Rocky Horror is centered around the clean-cut, recently engaged couple of Brad and Janet who find themselves on a stormy night in the castle of eccentric, transvestite Dr Frank N Furter.
The packed Edinburgh Playhouse was full of an excited, devoted audience – many in costume, sparkly hats, party hats – as they awaited the curtain to lift on this show which means so much to so many people.
At its core, Rocky Horror is a show of sexual liberation, being free of society’s judgement, which is why it has found so much importance over the year in LGBTQ+ communities. It’s an important part of queer history, but as was clear from the audience, the show has a widespread appeal. Amongst the crowd were straight couples, gay couples, younger folk, older folk, and just about anyone who appreciates great theatre. Because great theatre is precisely what this show is.
The narrator (Philip Franks) was one of the show’s many highlights with his quick-witted remarks to the audience’s callbacks – a staple of the Rocky Horror experience where fans have memorized every quip for its now iconic audience participation. However, those easily offended or shocked may want to steer clear as no taboo topic was left untouched, with a joke regarding Prince Andrew “grooming Corgis” being met first with gasps from the audience and then rapturous applause and laughter. Another highlight was when the fans shouted “cock!” at the performers and Philip went on to say, “you wouldn’t hear that at Phantom of The Opera!”, before singing a short a-cappella musical performance from that show and shouting “cock!” at the end of it.
The soundtrack is one of the most iconic things from Rocky and here it is sung with passion from the cast who clearly have a deep love for the material. Kristian Lavercombe continues to hit that glorious high-note in ‘Frankenstein Place’ and the ‘Time Warp’ got the whole audience on their feet dancing. Arguably, the best moment of the whole show was the floorshow, which was brimming with energy and enthusiasm, despite being at the very end of the show – with the cast all dressed up in fishnets and feather boas.
Hugh Durrants’ set design is both simplistic, yet highly effective with a charmingly tacky aesthetic that contributes to the brilliant B-movie feel of the whole production. The bulk of the production takes place in Frank N Furter’s castle which consists of one backdrop which rotates scene-to-scene – sometimes less works more and this is one of the best examples. Sue Blane’s costuming feels true to the characters we have grown to love.
With one night left in Edinburgh, you have very limited time to see Rocky Horror at the Playhouse, however, it will be touring the rest of the UK throughout 2023. Further tour dates can be viewed here.
Featured Image Credit: Rocky Horror UK
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