Review: Rocky Horror Show is a rip-roaring riot on Northampton stage

Lily Canter reviews the Rocky Horror Show at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton

By Peter Ormerod
Tuesday, 12th July 2022, 4:13 pm
There's outrageous fun aplenty in The Rocky Horror show (photo: Richard Davenport/The Other Richard)
There's outrageous fun aplenty in The Rocky Horror show (photo: Richard Davenport/The Other Richard)

The only time is it completely acceptable - if not compulsory - to wear a lingerie basque to the theatre is when going to see the outrageously bonkers Rocky Horror Show.

Just shy of 50-years-old, the sensual, salacious musical by Richard O'Brien is a theatrical experience not quite like any other.

Where else would you see a 65-year-old bald man in a red latex corset dancing The Time Warp next to a 25-year-old woman in a bra and suspenders?

It is the ultimate leveller of age, sex and gender and decades ahead of its time when it first burst onto the stage in 1973.

Most Popular

    Far from being vulgar, it is a rip-roaring riot of live music, outlandish costumes and irreverent humour.

    The eccentric plot begins with virtuous couple Brad and Janet whose car break downs close to an ominous castle. Seeking refuge from an almighty storm they are unexpectedly drawn into the mysterious world of inventor Frank N Furter as his perfect specimen, Rocky, is born.

    What ensues is an exploration of lust, sexuality and hedonism punctured by a string of ear-worm tunes performed by a live band.

    The bold cast, who are exposed in more ways than one, feature Strictly Come Dancing winner Ore Oduba as naïve Brad. With solid singing chops he puts in a strong performance albeit one that is a little too earnest rather than tongue-in-cheek. Alongside him is stalwart performer Haley Flaherty who belts out some of the best female vocals.

    At the centre of the mayhem is Stephen Webb's incarnation of antihero Frank N Furter. Though his wicked command of the stage oozes with the raunchiness audiences have come to expect, his wandering Liverpudlian/Cornish/Germanic/American accent was rather grating when he wasn't belting out a song.

    Faring better were supporting cast members Kristian Lavercombe perfectly channelling his inner Richard O'Brien in the role of Riff Raff and Joe Allen who electrified the stage in his brief rock’n’roll number as the doomed Eddie.

    Holding the spurious narrative together with wit, charm and a firm wink in his eye was Philip Franks who frequently broke the fourth wall. He handled the audience heckling without missing a beat and created the biggest laughs with his quips on everything from future Derngate productions to Prince Andrew and Boris Johnson.

    But the biggest performer of the night had to be the audience who were out of their seats within minutes to shout lines at the cast, dance along to the catchiest songs and lift their fairy lights in the air.

    Never has an audience been more far game for a good time.

    The Rocky Horror Show, written by Richard O'Brien and directed by Christopher Luscombe, ran at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton until Saturday July 9. Visit royalandderngate.co.uk for details of future shows at the venue and see rockyhorror.co.uk/tour-dates for details of future performances of The Rocky Horror Show as it tours venues across the UK