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20th January 2022

Review: The Rocky Horror Show

Harriet Cummings reviews The Rocky Horror Show at the Palace Theatre
Review: The Rocky Horror Show
Photo: ©The Other Richard.©The Other Richard

On its fifty-year anniversary, The Rocky Horror Show did not fail to send the whole audience of the Palace Theatre into one bellow of “LET’S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN”. Christopher Luscombe honoured the work of Richard O’Brien’s cult classic: the iconic characters, the costumes, the music, all re-kindling the hilarious and tantalising essence of the rock n roll-infused show that has kept its fans coming back for so long.

The story revolves around a recently engaged couple who plan to visit their good friend Dr Everett. V Scott. However, before they reach his home, they fall upon some car trouble and find themselves seeking assistance at a castle oozing with ominousness. Once inside, they discover a raucous party of strange individuals who introduce their master, Dr Frank-N-Furter. He invites the couple to stay and witness the birth of his recent experiment – a scientifically-made man named Rocky (named so because of the rocks in his head). The couple stay the night and find themselves compelled by the seductions of Dr Frank-N-Furter, who spoils their seemingly naïve and innocent image, making them feather-bowered spectators to the unravelling secrets of the sweet transvestites from Transylvania.

All of the cast deserve to be credited for their faultless performance. The charm of the starring characters: Brad (played by Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba) and Janet (played by Haley Flaherty) were captivating and carried us through their beguiling experience under the roof of Dr Frank-N-Furter. Stephen Webb’s performance of everyone’s favourite character, Dr
Frank-N-Furter himself, was sexy and enthralling. I was most apprehensive about the performance of the Dr – the delivery of such an iconic figure can really be the make or break of a beloved show – but Webb could not have fulfilled the demand better.

Philip Franks’ (The Darling Buds of May, Heartbeat) performance as the narrator was sensational from the second the play began. He played with the heckles of Rocky Horror Show familiars in the audience expertly, as well as delivering satire comedy about contemporary politics that sent audience members into hysterics. The perfect dose of resonant comedy in a legendary play to take a chuckle and carry it until you convulse with laughter.

The spiritedness of the audience’s costumes didn’t disappoint, evidencing how the loyalty of Rocky Horror Show fans is never faltering and made an especially enthusiastic comeback after so many months of lockdown. It’s fair to say, the theatre was missed through such strenuous times, but that has not rendered the Time Warp forgotten; far from it! Everyone
was up and out of their seats for all the major numbers – ‘Dammit Janet’, ‘Sweet Transvestite’ and ‘Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch Me’; to name but a few. I spoke to a lady that told me she’d been a follower of the show since (in her words) “before you were born”, and she was not let down by the energy, wit and flirtation enveloped in this particular production.

As a first-time viewer of the show, I fail to comprehend any critique that could have improved it. Nor can I imagine how any future interpretations may rival it. But that will not prevent me from becoming yet another devoted fan that follows the show around for many years to come. I will forever be encouraging any musical lover to watch this outstanding play. Pretty groovy!

The Rocky Horror Show plays at Manchester’s Palace Theatre until 22nd January, before continuing its UK tour throughout 2022. It was last in Manchester in August last year, so no doubt it’ll be back here in no time (warp)!

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