It’s astounding, time has fleeted and still madness takes its toll….yes, okay, the Rocky Horror Show is back in town and another, yet another, generation of sweet transvestites, Magentas, Columbias, Riff Raffs are doing the Time Warp.
Having only seen the film version of the cult musical – and accompanied by that rare thing – a Rocky Horror virgin – you could feel the excitement mounting even before we took our seats in the splendid Edwardian auditorium of the New Theatre. Audience members dressed as their favourite characters flocked to the theatre and once inside it looked like a sell out. While the tradition squirting of waterpistols, throwing of toast etc was politely banned (as tends to be the norm, I am told) the dedicated audience shouted out the now legendary responses to the Narrator’s monologue and demonstrated their familiarity with every piece of dialogue, every song lyric and every movement on stage.
We were told that tonight the roles of Columbia was played by Lauren Ingram and that most unlikely hero role of Riff Raff was played by Zachary Morris, rather than the cast members in the programme, Sophie Linder-Lee and Kristian Lavercombe.
Pre dinner entertainment? Paul Cattermole
This was a faultless cast and, crucially, the more outrageous the character that amazingly had been created by Richard O’Brien way back in 1973, the stronger the performer.
Directed by Christopher Luscombe, this production retains the passion, energy and cheekiness that has made Rocky Horror as popular now as more than 40 years ago when it first started playing its small part in the undermining of sexual and social mores on the early 1970s. Richard Meek and Haley Flaherty are two innocents abroad, Brad and Janet, who stumble across the sexual experiment being conducted by Frank-N-Furter with his comrades Riff Raff, Magenta and, not so happily, Columbia.
The story is narrated in this incarnation by Philip Franks and he clearly delighted in the fun side of what has to be a neatly drawn line between being straight-laced, chilling and plain daft. Similarly Paul Cattermole managed an even more difficult task as troubled yet tasty Eddie and Dr Scott. Yes, as Rocky, Dominic Anderson was made for the role, glistening with muscles and sporting dinky, teeny-weeny pants and trainers.
Hundreds of people have played that most iconic of cult roles, Frank-N-Furter, and while no one will ever hold a candle to Tim Curry in this touring production the former tv talent show The Voice contestant Liam Tamne chilled, thrilled, sashayed and scintillate in fishnets, basque, eye liner and a wicked smile. Oh and a good singing voice.
Madness takes control: the cast
Being a skit on American society as well as the sci-fi genre it was an added but of fun with the show including jokes about the result of the US presidency elections including how Hillary has spare time now so could have a spell as the Narrator role.
From that wonderful opening, with a single usherette on stage singing Science Fiction Double Feature to the cast performing an encore of Time Warp, the singing, dancing audience, lapped up every saucy second.
Go on – you know you want to. Don’t Dream it – Be it.
New Theatre, Cardiff until November 26