BWW Review: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, Grand Opera House York
Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show has had audiences worldwide shivering in "antici...pation!" for more than 40 years, and shows no sign of stopping with its 2019 world tour, directed by Christopher Luscombe.
When squeaky-clean, newly engaged couple Brad (James Darch) and Janet (Joanne Clifton) run into car trouble and seek help at the Frankenstein place, little do they know they're in for the very weirdest and wildest of nights with Dr Frank N Furter and his madcap group of cronies from the planet Transsexual, Transylvania.
From the moment Laura Harrison steps on stage as the Usherette and breaks into "Science Fiction/Double Feature", it's clear that this is going to be everything that The Rocky Horror Show should be: campy, boisterous and unabashedly saucy.
Darch and Clifton are excellently cast as the unsuspecting victims of the ensuing madness, with Clifton in particular pulling off the role of dusky-voiced innocent turned wild woman with kitschy panache. Harrison dazzles as Magenta and Miracle Chance is a whirlwind of sequinned energy as Columbia.
Stephen Webb grabs the role of Frank N Furter with both (beautifully manicured, I'm sure) hands, strutting about the stage with a delicious amount of sass and confidence. He is every inch the schlocky, deviant, mad scientist, psychopath, cross-dressing alien we've all come to know and love from this cult classic.
Amongst all the fantastic performances, the standout is Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff. He has an incredible voice that almost sounds made for the role, and his experience as Riff Raff shows as he creeps and gallops to and fro, delivering every line with perfect comedic timing.
Designer Hugh Durrant outdoes himself with a larger-than-life, cartoonish set, and costume designer Sue Blane delivers all the goth-y glitz and glamour you could want, not to mention a host of stunning wigs and towering heels.
Much of the magic of Rocky Horror lies in its relationship with its audience - Richard O'Brien himself put it best when he said the show is "like an alternative panto". This production, and Steve Punt as the Narrator in particular, leaves plenty of room for the panto-esque back and forth with the audience that's become a staple of the show, coaxing out plenty of laughs but never losing control of what can be a very high-spirited audience.
Despite opening night in York being a (decidedly dreary) Monday night, by the end of the show the audience was on its feet, Time Warp-ing with wacky abandon. There's a reason The Rocky Horror Show never loses popularity, and this production doesn't disappoint. So go ahead - "give yourself over to absolute pleasure"!
Photo credit: Rocky Horror Show