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Review: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, New Wimbledon Theatre

Review: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, New Wimbledon Theatre

Review: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, New Wimbledon Theatre Theatre audiences are certainly less easy to shock these days than they were back in 1973 when Richard O'Brien's outrageous musical The Rocky Horror Show first debuted at the Royal Court.

These days, gender is a much more fluid concept and cross-dressing is commonplace rather than quirky. Shows such as Everyone's Talking About Jamie and Kinky Boots have The Rocky Horror Show to thank for elevating cross dressing to the mainstream.

Despite the fact that the show is no longer radical, there's still something deliciously teasing about a show that celebrates an alternative sexual reality and the joy of grown men wearing fishnets.

Naïve lovebirds Brad and Janet break down on the way to visiting an old college professor. Searching for help, they come across the crazy world of Dr Frank-N-Furter, a cross-dressing mad scientist. In an absurdist plot, the pair spend a mad night with a quirky and distinctly kinky group of characters.

The whole cast throw themselves into the kitsch and schlocky production. Joanne Clifton and Ben Adams are both pitch-perfect as the sickly sweet and clueless couple Janet and Brad, who gradually lose their inhibitions. Adams uses his honeyed boyband vocals to great effect and Clifton revels in her good-girl-turned-bad character.

Stephen Webb shows huge sass, confidence and mania as Frank-N-Furter, strutting around in fishnets as though he has been doing it since birth. He has a huge voice, which suits the character completely, although his accent tends to drift around. His rendition of "Sweet Transvestite" is particularly captivating. Callum Evans' Rocky is great as the physically perfect specimen, but he also shows great comic timing and some nifty acrobatics.

Kristian Lavercombe has been playing creepy butler Riff Raff for over 1,400 performances, an iconic role as it belonged to O'Brien himself. Lavercombe is wonderfully weird and sinister and pairs very well with Laura Harrison as an energetic Magenta.

This is a show that will inevitably fail without audience engagement. Directed by Christopher Luscombe, this touring production is very aware of the audience's expectations and need for interaction with the story. Some of the funniest moments comes from Dom Joly, who is whip-smart and deadpan in his ripostes as the heckled Narrator.

Hugh Durrant's set is kitsch, cartoonish and clever in its transformations. It is complimented brilliantly by Nick Richings' lighting design, which often feels like a mad disco.

The live band, led by Musical Director George Carter, is placed above the stage. This emphasises the importance of the music in the show, and the band is loud and energetic. Costume Designer Sue Blane, who had a budget of only £400 when she worked with the original cast, does not disappoint with some outrageously revealing outfits. Every basque and corset fits perfectly.

There must be something innate in theatre audiences that makes them rise to their feet as one when the "Time Warp" begins; even the refuseniks cannot help but to be infected by the extravagant silliness.

More importantly, the show continues the attitude that everyone and anyone is accepted and celebrated. The cheeky campness of the show remains irresistible and this touring production is a fabulously fun and anarchic night out.

The Rocky Horror Show is at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 16 February, then touring

Photo Credit: David Freeman

Review: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, VAULT Festival Photo
You are going to die. It’s a certainty, but it’s also the title of the latest play by This is Not Culturally Significant writer Adam Scott-Rowley. Performed entirely naked, You Are Going To Die is a show about everything and nothing. You can read as much or as little as you wish in it. What does it deal with? We’d love to know - we came out of it with more questions than answers. It feels like a social experiment or an impenetrable piece of performance art. It might just be simply throwing stuff at a wall to see what sticks.

Review: FREAK OUT!, VAULT Festival Photo
Coin Toss Collective are an exceptionally creative young company. Freak Out! highlights a problem that wouldn’t cross the mind of the average British person who lives in the inland. They deliver an amusing, chaotic farewell to East Anglia. Who would’ve thought that a show about coastal erosion would be so cool!

Review: VANILLA, VAULT Festival Photo
Laura Mead writes with prudish humour while Keith Swainston directs her, Ned Wakeley (Dan), and Scott Henderson in a production that’s almost as uninteresting as Katie and Dan’s sex life. Mead’s script is as traditional as the missionary position, but wishes to be as funny as an inappropriate joke at a funeral. She gives her character a silver tongue and wit for days, and she’s great at delivering too, but the plot is awkwardly stale in its predictability.

Review: BURNOUT, VAULT Festival Photo
This approach has the story losing focus and looks like a plain attempt at quirkiness. Ultimately, while they mention how difficult it is to have only one hour, the piece comes off as struggling to fill those 60 minutes. All in all, the spirit of Burnout is strong and the creatives behind it have all the right ideas. Perhaps a stronger grasp on a more developed plot might help this naive call to arms.

From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre and opera. She is a... (read more about this author)

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