It was 1973 when Richard O’Brien penned his ode to the sci-fi and horror films of his youth, throwing in some naughty humour and rock 'n' roll for good measure, and The Rocky Horror Show was born. Forty years on, the production is touring in its anniversary year across the country; Starburst went along to get in on the frolics.
The Rocky Horror Show sees clean-cut couple Brad and Janet (Sam Attwater and Dani Harmer) stranded in the middle of a thunderstorm with a flat tyre. They head back to the old castle they passed several miles back to seek help. It is here that they are introduced to the devilish, transvestite scientist Dr Frank N Furter (Oliver Thornton) and his trio of minions who are seeking to finish their creation: a man with ‘blonde hair and a tan’. Brad and Janet are soon drawn into the decadent lifestyle that Frank N Furter entices them with; could their old science teacher possibly be their saviour?
It is as trashy and campy as it reads, but that’s all part of the attraction, and The Rocky Horror Show has certainly not lost any appeal at forty years old. This wonderful production is aided by a first rate cast. Oliver Thornton as Frank N Furter is everything a B-movie villain needs to be; he’s sinister yet charming, amusing yet, albeit briefly, tragic. Thornton is every bit the successor to Tim Curry, who originated the role. Meanwhile, Sam Attwater and Dani Harmer (yes, as in Tracey Beaker!) play up the straight-laced couple to fantastically humorous effect and it makes their seduction all the more hilarious. However, special mention must go to Philip Franks at the omniscient Narrator of the tale, who, whilst keeping it very deadpan, is able to hold his own against the pantomime barrage of audience call-backs and one liners.
Elsewhere, The Rocky Horror Show is aided by extremely clever production values; the stage turns cinematic as the show is presented by an Usherette pulling back the curtain of the “cinema screen”, the interior of the old castle is peppered with taxidermy, and the climax, filled with smoke and lights, is a fitting finale for any low-budget 1950s sci-fi flick, which of course The Rocky Horror Show lovingly pays tribute to.
And finally, The Rocky Horror Show keeps up to scratch what it does best, its music. The score includes Sweet Transvestite, Science Fiction Double Feature and of course The Time Warp. These timeless classics, coupled with the strong cast and excellent set design, will keep fans going for another forty years.