The Rocky Horror Show (Theatre Royal, Brighton, until Saturday, January 2nd)
Au courant preachers have used the final lines of The Rocky Horror Show to perk up a thought-provoking sermon but that’s about as close to the meaning of Christmas you will get from this year’s festive fare at the Theatre Royal, Brighton.
Clever theatre bosses have decided Richard O’Brien’s cult musical is worthy of being its seasonal offering again. Once again it is launched at Brighton prior to a national tour – and once again it is a stunning, brilliant hit.
There’s no point in being Scrooge-like about it – once more director Christopher Luscombe and a brilliant company pump this lively production with renewed vigour, making it even more lip-smackingly outrageous and tremendous fun, whatever the season.
Luscombe has directed several tours of this show now, and the great thing is he never rests on his laurels or allows the cast to phone in their performances. If you’ve seen the show before at Brighton, dash to see it again for this delightful sci-fi, horror, and rock pastiche is as good as ever, if not better.
A noisy and appreciative audience threw everything they’d got at the cast – not least at Steve Punt, who plays the genial narrator with schoolboy wickedness and knowing winks. They were rewarded by some classy and strong performances, especially from the lesser-known cast members.
If anyone could unseat the magnificent David Bedella from his throne as the shameless but utterly likeable Frank-N-Furter, then Liam Tamne must be top of the list. In his hands the mad scientist who is creating fiendish delights in his lab loses none of his high camp yet somehow there is a depth to the performance, suggesting a sadness and loneliness behind the glamorous facade.
As the bewildered squeaky clean Brad and Janet, Ben Freeman and Diana Vickers are superb, not least in their solo numbers Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a Touch Me and Once in A While – and they are quite unfazed by the traditional audience ribaldry
There are more than a few swoons and appreciative shrieks from the audience at the appearance of an exceptionally hunky Dominic Andersen as Rocky, looking stunning in tight leopard print briefs and living up to the Charles Atlas song introduction. Again, and impressively, there is something profound about this manly creation, who may literally have half the brain of one of his predecessors but learns quickly. Great abs – great voice!
Kristian Lavercombe seems to have been playing the enviable role of Riff Raff for years, but there can be no complaint when he continues to deliver such a first-rate performance, encouraging everyone to do the Time Warp again and again with glee.
There is also strong support from Sophie Linder-Lee as Frank groupie Columbia; Kay Murphy as Magenta and the usherette; and Paul Cattermole in remarkably good voice doubling as Eddie and Dr Scott.
The audience was reluctant to leave at curtain down and no wonder: this is a sparkling and classy production of a timeless treat. And even if you decide against turning up in a basque and fishnet stockings there is no doubting that any audience will rate this Rocky as the shining star on top of the Christmas tree.