Rocky Horror Picture Show review Richmond Theatre image by David Freeman

The Rocky Horror Show review: Richmond Theatre

The Rocky Horror Show review: Richmond Theatre

It may be almost 50 years old, but the bawdy musical is still outrageously good fun

Leave your inhibitions and good taste at the door – The Rocky Horror Show is in town. Since Richard O’Brien unleashed his raucous musical inspired by sci-fi B-movies on the world in 1973 it has garnered legions of fans, and gained cult-like status. Followers still pay pilgrimage to this strange world of a ‘sweet transvestite’, dressed in stockings and fishnets; they know the words to every song, and they can’t wait to pelvic thrust away in the aisles to the Time Warp.

It’s Richmond Theatre’s turn to host the UK tour this week, and at the opening night, the audience was comprised of those who’d probably seen the musical (or subsequent film) way back when it first came out, along with a new generation up for an evening of bawdy humour.

The storyline is flimsy to say the least – newly-engaged innocents Brad and Janet break down in their car and seek help at the door of a creepy castle. Said castle is owned by Dr Frank-n-Furter, a transvestite from Transylvania with dubious motives.

This is not a sophisticated night out by any means – but what keeps people coming back is the naughty silliness of it – and rollicking good tunes. And what it lacks in taste, it makes up for in talent. The current cast is just phenomenal. Ore Oduba and Haley Flaherty play the innocent couple perfectly, Stephen Webb makes a commanding Frank-n-Furter who sneers and leers his way across the stage. And while the song lyrics are just daft, the vocal talents on display are quite something.

What really drives the success of each show is the audience participation, from dressing up in lab coats and women’s scanties, to the heckles. You never quite know what you’ll get given anyone can shout out whatever they like so it requires a deft cast that can handle it – in particular, the narrator.

On the current tour, it’s in the hands of Philip Franks, and he’s absolutely spot-on excellent. With a mere raise of the eyebrow, he takes command, and had a witty come-back to pretty much everything shouted out as well as some topical one-liners about the dodgy antics of our politicians that had the audience cheering.

Given it’s age, there are elements that make you wince if you look at it through today’s lens (Dr Frank-N-Furter tricking the innocents into sex acts, the idea that the audience should shout out slut at Janet). But there’s nothing about this show that is PC. Make your way into the ‘Time Warp’, take it at the level it was intended – pure, cheap thrills, rock n roll tunes, and total escapism – and you’re in for a fun night out.


Richmond Theatre until 28 May, and touring.


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