Review: Rocky Horror Show at New Theatre Oxford
"Whilst it’s definitely not one for the coy or prudish, this bold and bawdy Transylvanian romp through sexual desires has become an absolute classic with good reason."
There aren’t many shows where you wear teetering tall boots and a little wench outfit and still feel prim and proper in the auditorium.
But amidst ranks of men and women in corsets and suspenders, my co-critic and I felt decidedly demure as we enjoyed this throbbingly exciting performance.
The Rocky Horror Show is a crazy experience that really shouldn’t be missed, if you can handle scantily clad women gyrating on stage with feather boas and horny men prancing raunchily together in fishnets and basques. It’s a plot of twists and turns, as an innocent couple stumble across a house of base desires and a biochemical experiment, with a science fiction element all of which makes for an unusual story, accompanied by some cracking musical numbers.
Brad (Richard Meek) and Janet (Sophie Linder-Lee), an upstanding pair newly engaged and saving themselves for their wedding night, break down in a storm and ask for help at a strange old castle. They are welcomed by the crazed transvestite Frank N Furter and his mix of servants who enjoy one another with carnal delight of a bisexual bent. Frank is a bioscientist, and his new creation, Rocky, is a physically perfect Adonis who glistened across the stage in muscle-rippling acrobatic leaps and skimpy leopard skin briefs, a sight worth the ticket price alone. Initially apprehensive, Brad and Janet are enticed into the sins of the flesh by Frank and Rocky, and as their inhibitions give way to desire there’s an onstage orgy, with brilliant red corsets and stockings writhing amongst the dry ice, before a more macabre episode and a gentle Brad-Janet ending.
The story is partially narrated throughout, and Norman Pace (from comedy double-act Hale and Pace) was truly brilliant as the narrator, picking up the racy comments thrown at him by a good humouredly heckling audience and responding with aplomb, fast wit and references to current affairs. Early interaction with the audience gave the whole performance a deliciously intimate feel, despite the weird shadowy castle set, and within 15 minutes of the curtain lifting the entire audience was on its feet with a high-spirited Time Warp.
This is a fantastic night out – a weird twist on a pantomime for an adult audience complete with Cinderella and Prince Charming (Brad and Janet) and a wacky bunch of ‘courtiers’ while Frank N Furter would be the evil stepmother. Whilst it’s definitely not one for the coy or prudish, this bold and bawdy Transylvanian romp through sexual desires has become an absolute classic with good reason. I recommend you too do the Time Warp and don’t forget your lace and leather for the standing ovation.
Rocky Horror plays at New Theatre Oxford until 17th December, and then again from 27th-31st December.