Timeless and warped! The Rocky Horror Show is still a rock and roll romp

First things first. The Rocky Horror Show, which runs at Peterborough New Theatre until Saturday, is a show like no other; and it merits a review like no other.

By Brad Barnes
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 8:35 am
The Rocky Horror Show at New Theatre until February 19
The Rocky Horror Show at New Theatre until February 19

For starters there’s the ill-fitting and slightly ridiculous costumes - stockings, suspenders, basques, high heels; the make-up deliberately over the top; and the hair just wild or a poorly kept wig.

This is, of course, just the audience gathered pre-show. And in the main, the men.

Yes, The Rocky Horror Show audience is, in football parlance, the “12th man”; not in the programme but important in the team’s success.

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In terms of audience participation it makes the smuttiest panto look like an afternoon in the library.

And while the audience is not listed in the cast, participation does, for many, run to joining in with dialogue - banter, heckles, retorts. It is shouted back, and some of the words used were what you might call “industrial”; the sort of thing you might not want your granny to hear - although a granny I spoke to after the show absolutely loved it to be fair!

Most of it is directed at the narrator, in this case an attention-grabbing performance from Philip Franks, whose every appearance was met with anticipation. Very, very British and straight-laced - with a potty mouth (think Stephen Fry) his delivery was absolutely perfect. Now he might have known from his pauses that something was coming though not necessarily what some of the time. But he dealt with it brilliantly, super funny, some of his ad-libs and quips, off-the-cuff or scripted, were hilarious. Particularly the one about a certain member of the Royal family which I won’t repeat as it would probably need running by the lawyers.

The plot, for those who don’t know it, sees an innocent young couple find themselves at the doors of a strange castle after their car breaks down. Brad (Ore Oduba) and Janet (Haley Flaherty) play it straight - and to do so when there is so much madness going on around them deserves credit. And once you get past the “wow, that is Ore Oduba up there doing that” (I won’t say what) you see he is totally at ease on stage and can sing.

And there is singing aplenty from the super-talented cast - so many to mention but Stephen Webb as Frank N Furter is immense.

The songs are absolute classics - who doesn’t know The Time Warp? and they are all delivered brilliantly,of course.

This is a very slick show, despite the chaos of everything unfolding on stage. The dancing - very suggestive with lots of gyrating - is amazing and the music and lighting just terrific.

And it is also very, very funny.

It is a fast-paced, relentless rock and roll romp that was well deserving of the standing - and dancing - ovation at the end.

Bonkers, yes. But it does what all good theatre should. It gets into your head.

Now, was it a jump to the left? And then a step to the right.....?

See The Rocky Horror Show at New Theatre in Broadway until Saturday (19th) . Tickets at www.newtheatre-peterborough.com