Review: ROCKY HORROR SHOW, Richmond Theatre

Richard O'Brien's cult classic no longer shocks, but still thoroughly entertains

By: May. 24, 2022
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Review: ROCKY HORROR SHOW, Richmond Theatre

Review: ROCKY HORROR SHOW, Richmond Theatre It's likely that South West London's Richmond Theatre has never had to display a sign saying that toast and confetti will be confiscated at the front doors, but Rocky Horror Show often brings rather over-enthusiastic audience participation.

Richard O'Brien's cult show may not have the subversive shock that it had nearly 50 years ago, when it made its stage debut, but it remains a show with the potential to thoroughly entertain. This current tour is an irresistible mixture of science fiction, outrageous costumes and sexual liberation, played with its tongue firmly in its cheek.

Newly-engaged couple Brad and Janet come across a mysterious castle after their car breaks down in a storm. They are welcomed by a mysterious group of characters, including Riff Raff the butler. They are introduced to transvestite scientist Frank-N-Furter, who proceeds to tempt the innocent couple towards the delights of the physical.

Ore Oduba is suitably stilted as Brad and does his best with a part which is inherently quite flat and boring. Oduba has a sweetly awkward chemistry with Haley Flaherty's virtuous Janet. Her transition to sexual awakening is very funny and her rendition of "Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me" captures the mood.

Stephen Webb knows the role of Frank N Furter well, but brings fresh enthusiasm. He is a knowing and beautifully outrageous version of the character and his rendition of "Sweet Transvestite" is everything the audience wants.

Philip Franks, as the Narrator, is an inspired bit of casting and the unexpected gem of the show. He shows outstanding comic timing and intonation and handles the audience heckles with caustic aplomb. His asides referring to porn in the House of Commons, Priti Patel and a sharp limerick about Keir Starmer are both clever and truly hilarious.

Suzie McAdam's Usherette kicks off the show and later reappears as Magenta, with a belting vocals throughout. Incredibly, Kristian Lavercombe has played Riff Raff over 1800 times and remains creepily amusing in the role. Lauren Ingram also impresses as an irrepressible Columbia.

Christopher Luscombe's direction is pacy, with the show done and dusted in a tight two hours. What is clever about the show is the cast's ability to keep things moving slickly, whatever the audience may throw at it. There are points that the action looks in disarray, but in fact, it is tightly organised chaos, including a joyous "Time Warp".

Audience participation is a given and every show must be very different for the cast. At Richmond, the cast harness the audience's energy well enough to produce some raucous reactions.

The show certainly isn't as subversive as it was; gender fluidity and sexual expression are now part of the mainstream. However, the pure fun and genuine entertainment of the show remains in earnest.

The Rocky Horror Show is at Richmond Theatre until 28 May, then touring

Photo Credit: David Freeman


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