REVIEW | Rocky Horror Show, UK Tour

23 May 2019

Photo: Richard Davenport

Rocky Horror Show
UK Tour
The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
★★

Since the musical's debut in a tiny upstairs theatre in London back in 1973 not only has it been performed pretty much continuously across the world but since the popular 1975 film adaptation, The Rocky Horror Show has been cited as one of the most important plays to emerge from the counterculture movement of the late 1960's and the early 1970's. The writer Richard O'Brien wanted a musical that 'appealed to me, an eternal adolescent' (Source). Thanks to its gloriously camp combination of catchy songs, outrageous cross-dressing and B-movie plot. 

It's a date in the diary for its avid fans who flock to the theatre in their best outfits influenced by many of the show's iconic characters. 

My first visit to the musical was back in 2016 and it's one of the only musicals I know where traditional theatre etiquette is thrown out of the theatre. There is an 'allowance' for naughty innuendos to be shouted in response to specific parts of the show. Of course, there's the open invitation to Time Warp with the cast during the finale too. It's a show that has a unique atmosphere and an experience you won't forget. 

The Rocky Horror Show tells the story of a newly engaged couple, Brad and Janet who get caught up with a flat tire during a storm. They stumble upon a grand house to take shelter and unbeknownst to them it's the home of a mad transvestite scientist called Dr Frank N Furter. The characters innocence is lost amongst a household of eccentric characters, including a rocking biker and a creepy butler.

read more: The Rocky Horror Picture Show 2016 Tour Review.


Photo: Richard Davenport

Through a selection of elaborate dance numbers and rock songs, Frank N Furter (Duncan James) unveils his latest creation: a perfect, muscular man named Rocky Horror. 

This musical is quite the journey for Brad (Ben Adams) and (Joanne Clifton) who are thrust into a weird and wacky world that will test their innocence, but also explore their own personal journeys. Joanne Clifton does an incredible job at portraying the initially shy and demure person Janet is to becoming a bona fide sex goddess that oozes confidence. Her self-discovery enables her to shrug off the unnecessary pressure to be a chaste girl and some of her modest clothing too. Brad's character shows us that he initially appears to be charming and romantic but in fact he's a bit of a jerk. Unlike Janet, Ben Adams' character isn't bound by societal conventions to remain a virgin before marriage. His character takes on the acceptance that he doesn't want to live an old-school, traditional kind of life. Adams and Clifton certainly have a polished relationship in the Rocky Horror Show. They know their characters well and indefinitely use their vocal abilities to nail the musical score.

Frank N Furter's character is fascinating and Duncan James does a superb job in nailing the portrayal of the eccentric character in his own way. Almost as soon as the doors opened to reveal him for the Sweet Transvestite number you could feel the energy vibrating out into the audience. Duncan James has done an excellent job in portraying the balance between a feminine but masculine character with real authority to the entire story. I couldn't keep my eyes off him throughout the production as his performance was stellar. 

Photo: Richard Davenport
Photo: Richard Davenport
The audiences in Birmingham are in for a treat because exclusively to them is the bubbly Alison Hammond as the narrator. She received an incredible reception from her home crowd who ensured she was in for some of the traditional heckling in the show too. She was a natural up there and definitely integrated well into the musical's cast. 

Aside from great vocals and punchy choreography there are assured performances from the entire cast. The musical hasn't lost it's punch over the years and although it explores serious themes of sexuality and gender identity, it still remains a lot of fun! 

Don't miss The Rocky Horror Show during it's UK Tour. You can find out more and book your tickets here



DISCLAIMER: Theatre ticket was gifted in return for an honest review of the show. My opinions are my own and not influenced by the theatre or any other reviews of the production. 

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