Chris High reviews Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show on www.chrishigh.com


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Chris High reviews: The Rocky Horror Show 2006

RICHARD O'BRIEN'S -
ROCKY HORROR SHOW


David Bedella, Suzanne Shaw, Matthew Cole, Nathan Amzi, Iain Davey, Julian Essex-Spurrier, Kay Murphy, Shona White and John McArdle
Director: Christopher Luscombe
Choreographer: Jenny Arnold
Musical Director: Simon Beck

Liverpool Empire Theatre June 26th, 2006

Rocky Horror Show by Richard O'Brien:  promotional image

Review of Richard O'Brien's
ROCKY HORROR SHOW


On Tuesday June 19th 1973, it is doubtful that any of the sixty-three audience members who saw The Rocky Horror Show performed for the first time realised they were witnessing the birth of a phenomenon. Now, thirty-three years, countless performances, zillions of album sales and major cult movie release later, the show that spawned classics such as Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet and the timeless Time Warp is as popular, as bizarre and as off the wall as ever, delighting a whole new generation of men, women … and those in between.

Rarely is it that normal, everyday business men get the chance to dress for the theatre in basques and fishnets, without civil action being taken. With Rocky Horror, however, it’s almost obligatory. Which, in part, is where the success of the show lies. Without the wilful enthusiasm and participation of the audience – encouraged by the cast – the atmosphere of the show would be lessened, the freakyness of the storyline be dulled and the show’s originality fatally weakened, leaving nothing but a dated parody of shock horror, rather than the true glory of Rocky Horror.

The story, in case you didn’t know, sees newly wed all American pin-up couple Janet (Shaw) and Brad (Cole) break down in their car one dark and stormy night. Looking for help, they spot – as you do – an old house in the distance and – as you would – go ask for help. The house, naturally, is owned by a demented transvestite named Frankenfurter (Bedella) who insists the couple stay the night so that he can demonstrate his new creation – the body perfect that is Rocky.

Packed with energy, there is so much happening on stage it is exhausting trying to keep up. The jokes, the innuendos and the songs are crammed with double entendres that, even today let alone back in seventy-three, still cause ripples of schoolboy giggling and out and out guffaws of merriment. When Frank reveals his fashion sense from beneath a long black cape, it still causes a stir as he cavorts unashamedly around the stage with unadulterated glee on sparkly platform soled boots that resemble stilts and defy gravity.
David Bedella’s performance as Frank is a joy. Owning all the right attributes to carry the part – the whimsical manner, the high-cheek boned definition and a voice as thick and deep as a pool of melted kit-kats – he has the audience eating from his hand as though they are ponies in pets corner within seconds of appearing and never lets go of the reins.
Suzanne Shaw – former member of doomed pop combo Hear Say – is delightful as the naive Janet and proves that she has far more talent to offer than anything a reality TV show could ever uncover. Matthew Cole as Brad is the perfect geek who, with Bedella, all but steals the show during the scene when Frank seduces him at the beginning of the second act.

There are other fine performances too, most notably that of Julian Essex-Spurrier as Rocky who proves he is much more than a male model physique. He cartwheels, flick-flaks and dances throughout with a grace style and strength that is astonishing at times, whereas his singing voice is clear as mountain stream.

John McCardle, appearing in his hometown of Liverpool as The Narrator, is superb in the way he fields shouts from the audience concerning the whereabouts of Sheila in reference to his days as Billy Corkhill from Brookside. “Billy and Sheila are in another dimension,” he says with a smile. “They call it Basingstoke.”

The costumes are outrageous. The singing and dancing out of this world and the acting is cue perfect. The only downside is that the best lines all come in the first half, as the second has more of a sombre feel that rushes to a conclusion all too quickly.
That said, however, The Rocky Horror Show is STILL enormous fun and would be a blood-curdling mistake to miss at any price.
8/10

www.timewarp.org.uk

 

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