Tuesday, 25 June 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: The Rocky Horror Show - The Opera House, Blackpool.


'The Rocky Horror Show' has been a firm fixture in theatres for more than 40 years and it is unbelievably now 44 years since the original film was released. The film wasn’t a huge success when first released but has since become a cult classic and is still played in cinemas across the world today – it is the longest running film release ever!

The latest production of the show has been completing a world tour since the end of last year and continues to roll through towns and cities – here stopping at Blackpool for 5 nights. The cast has varied throughout the tour and tonight included a few of the alternates in various roles, not that you would notice as they all justified their positions wonderfully.

Whilst it seems unlikely that anyone reading this isn’t aware of the plot, I will just re-cap in order that anyone who has not seen the film or watched the show can keep up. The storyline is pretty much complete madness – it is camp, anarchic, boisterous and very much chaotic. It follows the squeaky clean couple Brad (James Darch) and his girlfriend – soon to be fiancé – Janet (Shelby Farmer) on their way to see their college lecturer Dr Scott (Ross Chisari) when they suffer a flat tyre. There is a castle in the distance with the lights on and they knock on the door in the hope of using their phone but this is just the start of their adventure as they meet Riff Raff (Andrew Ahern), Magenta (Laura Harrison), Columbia (Katie Louise Monks) and more importantly Frank N Furter (Duncan James).

Part of the tradition of seeing “Rocky Horror” is the audience participation where many dress up as their favourite characters, with many wearing rather daring and risqué outfits. Tonight in Blackpool was no exception with many audience members appearing to be veterans of the show. Another tradition is shouting out at particular points in the show and again the Blackpool audience tonight were in full flow. In particular the Narrator (Kristian Lavercombe) was subjected to many which he dealt with like a seasoned stand-up comedian might deal with the hecklers – he was a very able understudy to Steve Punt on the night.

I have to confess to being a little sceptical of the inclusion of Duncan James as Frank N Furter prior to the show, I am not a fan of adding the ‘celebrity’ actor to a show but I was blown away by his performance. He was every bit the transvestite, sexual deviant, mad scientist and psychopath that we all know and love – I thought James was very much the star of the show.

Laura Harrison also excelled in her role as both the Usherette at the very beginning and end of the show and as Megenta – brother of Riff Raff. She had many stunning vocal performances during the show and her ability to deliberately overact in places was hilarious – there were a few chuckles from the rest of the cast at both Harrison and Katie Louise Monks (who played Columbia) during these scenes. Special mention also has to go to Rocky (Callum Evans) who played the part perfectly – his front and back flips were very impressive.

It is hard to criticise this show as it ticks so many boxes for this crowd – for that reason it is difficult to change much from the original as I am sure this would not go down well with the loyal audience, many of whom clearly follow the show around the country. I overheard one of them remarking that “Bristol was mental!” but tonight’s performance in Blackpool seemed just as “mental” as anything I could imagine. It is such a crowd pleaser and for good reason – I don’t know of a show that you could compare it to and this makes it a unique experience and I cannot remember a show where such a large proportion of the audience are up and dancing by the end.

Reviewer - John Fish
on - 24/6/19

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