Wednesday, December 6

The Rocky Horror Show – Liverpool Empire

Well, what a hoot! From start to finish this show was an absolute rollercoaster of mayhem, laughter and double-entendres! The Rocky Horror Show – more of a phenomenon now since it first braced the theatres nearly 50 years ago (since 1973)- has become the biggest cult musical of all time. Richard 0’Brien’s wacky story of how two squeaky clean college kids – Brad and his fiancée Janet, when by a twist of fate, find their way into a creepy mansion whilst on their way to visit their former college professor, meet the charismatic Dr Frank ’n’ Furter and change their lives forever, has taken on a new life of its own.

I have seen the show a couple of times and thought it’s time I educated my 17-year-old son into the world of “The Mind Warp” and to the craziness that is the Rocky Horror Show. As we ate a meal next door to the theatre prior to the show, an array of wildly clad punters arrived, some in maids’ uniform, some dressed as professors, girls in glittery yellow hats and many men in suspenders and high heels. “What’s all this about?” my son asked, “Oh you’ll see” I replied.

Within the show’s programme there is no plot, no story, no idea of what lays ahead. The people there are either part of the madly clad, cult followers who know the show word for word (and can freely ad-lib to this at will throughout the show!), are inquisitive as to what this epic show is all about or just ones who know they’ll get 2 hours of fun and laughter and that’s all they need.

The story – for those that don’t know it, is hard to sum up really- it involves transvestites, vampires, aliens, professors, a creation (of pure muscle) and two innocent people who become engulfed into a world of debauchery, adultery and ecstasy – yes hard to describe but enthralling all the same! It’s based on the old horror stories that were shown in the 60’s in ‘the late-night picture show’ which is ironically the opening and closing song to the show. Don’t look for explanations- none are needed – just sit back and enjoy.

The superb cast were faultless, led by the talented Brad (Ore Oduba – a Strictly Come Dancing winner) Janet (Haley Flaherty), the awesome Frank N Furter (Stephen Webb), the wonderful Rocky (Ben Westhead), Columbia (Lauren Ingram), Magenta (Suzie McAdam) and Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe).

From start to finish each one played their parts magnificently. The audience jeered, heckled, sang, ad-libbed and threw so many jibes at the cast that they were part of the show themselves. The Narrator – Philip Franks – was superb, with comic genius that had the audience roaring with laughter both with him and at him.

In the interval I sat with a woman who had brought her mum with her to see the show for the first time. I asked her what she thought, “It’s fantastic! One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen! I want to come again!” I asked my son the same he replied, “I’ve never seen anything like it”. That is most certainly true – and for those of you that never have – come and see the show – live the experience and find out for yourselves – be prepared to be up “jumping to the left and stepping to the right (and pelvic thrusting!),” and singing and jeering and of course not being offended by the adult humour and provocation! For those that are the cult followers – carry on wearing the weird and absurd outfits, stumbling is size 10 heels as you attempt to climb to your seats and follow the show forever more!

It is funny, fantastical, a pantomime feel that leaves you smiling from ear to ear, has stunning costumes, lighting, musical scores and for me the show stopping moments were the “tripping scene” from Columbia, the opening scene/arrival from Frank N Furter “Sweet Transvestite” done stunningly; the cabaret at the end with all then cast in suspenders and the interaction with the audience of the wonderful Philip Franks. Excellent performance by all!  A must see!

Reviewer: Jan Mellor

Reviewed: 16th May 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★