Friday, December 1

The Rocky Horror Show – Richmond Theatre

A spectacular, innovative, and fun rock and roll musical, Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show is a guaranteed party and enjoyable evening for all. The popular and timeless classic songs are of course featured, including Sweet Transvestite, Damn It Janet, and the entertaining, wacky, and fabulous Time Warp, that is sure to leave audiences feeling overwhelming elation.

Before the show begins, you can feel the electric atmosphere in the building. This cult classic, first premiered in 1973, has a huge following of all ages, with many in the audience dressed in cosplay and in the spirit of the characters in the show. There was huge anticipation before the show began, and as soon as the instrumental of Time Warp began, the audience was captivated.

The show opened with the character of Betty, the Usherette (Suzie McAdam) with the song Science Fiction – Double Feature. While it felt unusual to open such a rock and roll performance with a solo performer, McAdam was entrancing and full of energy and she filled the stage with her powerful voice, drawing back the curtain to begin the show perfectly. The show rounded off nicely with Betty once more, adding to the supernatural storytelling. McAdam additionally played the role of Magenta, giving an enthusiastic and energetic performance and shining on stage even when the spotlight was not on her.

The curtain was pulled back to reveal the stage and the extensive set, and it just kept getting better. The show started with a car and castle. That set the scene for what was to come. The fun, cartoon-like vibe with nods to science-fiction and horror B movies was presented immediately. While the story is the least important aspect of the show, the premise is that a young, respectable, and naïve newly engaged couple, Brad (Ore Oduba) and Janet (Haley Flaherty) find themselves at a loose end when their car breaks down. They stumble into the spooky mansion of Dr Frank-N-Furter (Stephen Webb), a bisexual, cross-dressing mad-scientist and encounter a world they never dreamed of, meeting the eccentric Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe), the seductive Magenta (Suzie McAdam), the wild Columbia (Lauren Ingram) and the charming Rocky (Ben Westhead).

Every cast member equally shone and played their part to perfection, with excellent strong vocals from all exuding the highest energy. The score is vocally demanding, each cast member’s voice was faultless, and their performances appeared effortless. Stephen Webb as Dr Frank-N-Furter gave an outstanding performance, the audience in the palm of his hand. A special stand-out moment was Eddie, when the entire cast were together on stage, performing simple but effective choreography in perfect unison. The audience participation was unique but fabulous, with the audience cheering, shouting, and contributing where they can. The Narrator (Phillip Franks) did a tremendous job of interacting with audience members, firing comebacks and jokes that left the audience howling with laughter. Those who knew the show well pulled out show torches during Over At The Frankenstein Place which was a lovely touch and audience members quickly stood up as soon as the opening chords played to the Time Warp. Soon the audience were copying the dance routine on the stage, with plenty of jumping to the left and stepping to the right. Audience participation to this extent is rare, but everyone enjoyed partaking in the performance, and it was a wonderful experience to feel a part of something, particularly after the pandemic.

The Rocky Horror Show is a spectacle of the strange, the wacky, the raunchy and the fun. The staging, the orchestra and the detailed costumes are stunning and are a perfect addition to the drama of the show. Audiences will leave the theatre grinning from ear to ear, eager to tell tales of the mayhem they have just experienced.

The show is playing until March 2023, tickets available at: join the madness while you can!

Reviewer: Maani Way

Reviewed: 24th May 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★