Thursday, July 7

The Rocky Horror Show – Alexandra Birmingham

Let the Party and the Sounds Rock On!

With all vim, vigour and verve of a lady half her age “The Rocky Horror Show” rocks up horrifically at the Alexandra Theatre and, with a well aimed stiletto, crashes through the stage door and struts her sassy chassis before the goggle-eyed, costume-clad, schlock-worshipping clan of the Rocky fans like the mothership returning home laden with every wicked vice and indecent indulgence your little earthling mind could dream of.

Since it slithered from Richard O’Brien’s unfettered imagination somewhere back in the early seventies “Rocky” has evolved, expanded, regenerated and reinvented itself time and time again like an indestructible life form from those beloved 50’s movies it seeks to parody and continues to prove itself unabashedly brash, unashamedly sensual and unapologetically carnal. It is also total theatre – without its audience it is only half alive and tonight’s small, but perfectly formed, tribe of fishnetted aficionados squealed, whooped, hollered and heckled their lines like the practised pros they are.

The performers on stage, however, every kicking, licking, kissing, hissing, hunky, funky, rocking, shocking single one of them tear the roof of the place with a consummate eruption of talent and lust seducing the audience with all the skill of a Soho hooker and one by one we all blissfully succumb to absolute pleasure.

Stephen Webb’s Frank N Furter has big high-heels to fill and does so with perfect aplomb bringing a vibrant, thrusting and gleeful depravity to his part and an engaging Southern drawl like the bastard off-spring of Hannibal Lecter and Carol Channing. Kristian Lavercombe’s Riff Raff I previously described as “capering like a satanic meerkat” and his hunched creation last night did little to disabuse me of that. Phillip Frank’s Narrator with a lewd litany of well-prepared, off-the-cuff remarks brings something approaching sanity to the proceedings together with a book full of topical, satirical and hilarious gags. Lauren Ingram and Suzie McAdam (as Columbia and Magenta) complete the crew of incestuous extraterrestrials and grab their parts (in every sense of the word) and clearly love to swing (in every sense of the word). Joe Allen doubles-up as both Eddie and Dr.Scott serving two contrasting performances as a semi-lobotomised experiment and a stocking-wearing Nazi both of whom hold their own in two raucous rocking numbers and Ben Westhead as the rippling Rocky, Frank’s well-formed creation, brings a fresh innocence to it all. Brad and Janet, the virginal two-some, are deftly played by Ore Oduba and Haley Flaherty each raising above the vocal flak joyfully hurled at them and deliver two thoroughly realised and solid performances.

It’s a wild and an untamed thing of honest vulgarity, relishing its risqué reputation with an unrepentant desire to simply entertain. The sound was perfect, the music soared, the band was to die for, and Christopher Luscombe’s fresh and feisty direction complete the components of this throbbingly vibrant, demonically kitsch, sexily sardonic and, by the end, poignantly touching creation. Don’t dream it, see it!

The Rocky Horror Show continues in Birmingham until Saturday 2nd October before continuing an extensive UK and Ireland tour.

Reviewer: Peter Kinnock

Reviewed: 28th September 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★