I wonder if writer Richard O’Brien expected The Rocky Horror Show to enthral audiences of hundreds more than 45 years after it debuted at the tiny Royal Court in London. Exploring themes of gender identity and sexuality in a tribute to mid-20th century science fiction, Director Christopher Luscombe’s outrageous and energetic Rocky Horror Show is an immense amount of fun.
The show follows the eye-opening encounters of newly engaged couple Brad and Janet, who unintentionally become the guests of a death-defying extravaganza one stormy night.
Stephen Webb marvels as scientist Frank-N-Furter, commanding the stage of the tour’s remarkable cast throughout his confident portrayal of the wild Transylvanian transvestite. Philip Franks excels as The Narrator, modernising the 1973 musical with a remark on Brexit proceedings and responding with sharp wit to engagement from the audience, Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Joanne Clifton puts on an equally compelling performance as Janet. Her melodramatic expressions compliment the façade of confidence conveyed in A1 star Ben Adams’ portrayal of Brad, with the pair working well together as the show’s naïve lovers.
Despite the unruly proceedings of The Rocky Horror Show, the production behind it is consistently slick. Choreography from Nathan M Wright is purposeful and polished, and the flamboyant costumes designed by Sue Blane aid to the dramatics of this outlandish show.
Set designs from Hugh Durrant likewise serve to emphasise the absurdity of the unfolding events inside the scientist’s mansion, and immersive, colourful lighting by designer Nick Richings supports the electric atmosphere that fills the Lyceum throughout the show. Many of the team behind the show have been working on it for years and ensure that the show still captivates its audiences.
As the production concludes to 1,000 people up on their feet for a reprise of the Time Warp, it is clear that The Rocky Horror Show remains a production quite literally in a realm of its own.
Image: All Sheffield Theatres