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Over the years I've seen various snippets of The Rocky Horror Show movie, and know it to be the source of that party classic The Time Warp. Having been enticed into seeing it on the stage by my cousin, I was treated to the DVD as a christmas gift. I was largely unimpressed. The music isn't typical musical fodder, and the whole thing wreaked of cheapness. There were classic moments in the film, but I lost interest fairly quicly, so much so that I still didn't know what the ending was.
Last night, I attended the stage show in Edinburgh playhouse as it played its final night. I had been warned about the dressing up (which my female friend's gladly participated in), and was also told about the audience participation. I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I, myself, attended in grey combats and a pink top - which was as dressy up as I was prepared to get - boring, I know. I generally get into the spirit of these kind of things, but getting into suspenders and a black wig was a spirit level too far.
The show is largely taken from the film (or vice versa). Based on Richard O'Brien's (I know him to be the Chrystal Maze guy) original show, the story follows Brad and Janet (re-titled whore by the audience at last night's showing), as they become engaged and find themselves stranded with car trouble. They call upon a creepy house to use their telephone. Once inside, they find themselves entrapped by a group of freaky all-singing, all-dancing beings who are led by the mesmerising transvestite Frankenfurter.
Brad and Janet find themselves divided and conquered by Frankenfurter, who has his own dastardly plan to create another human being. The human being turns out to be Rocky (of which the show is clearly named after), who is a girating glitter ball of a man who probably had half the gay men in the audience swooning. Not me though, I was too far back to care. Throughout the show, the cast treat the audience to a tirade of musical numbers that range from the engaging to the near mind-numbing.
It would appear that I was doing myself a favour by missing the ending of the film, for I thought more of the story when it didn't have that stupid tack-on. However, the show was hugely enjoyable for what it was. The audience heckled the narrator, and he responded with a series of witty put-down's. The word cock was thrown about like confetti at a wedding, much to the amusement of the wildly applauding audience. It was all very deliberately smutty though, and perhaps not to everybody's cup of tea.
The costumes were exactly what you've seen on film, the songs barely deviated from the film soundtrack, and the sets were elaborate enough to capture the atmosphere of a creepy castle with creepy inhabitants. What nearly interested me nearly as much as the show though was the crowd of Frankenfurter's and Brads behind us who had come to the party absolutely frothing with booze, and spent the whole show fighting among themselves. At any other production, I would have been furious, but it almost added to the amusement of the whole experience, and the cast on stage seemed genuinely pleased to have a rowdy crowd.
The better songs were the familiar one's. The arrival of Frankenfurter, as he delivered a note-perfect Sweet Transvestite, was met with wild approval, whilst even my shy crowd took to the floor to re-enact that very famous arms in the arm/arms on your hip moment for The Time Warp. My friend nearly fell over herself with excitement when Janet screeched to Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me. I was less impressed by that one, and by the second act, the songs had s tinge of repetitiveness.
The cast were up to the task as well. I hadn't heard of any of them, but they delivered their parts almost perfectly. From what I can gather, it is David Badella who is currently leading the cast as Frankenfurter, and he was delirious as he trussed his way through his musical number's. I was also fairly impressed by Richard Meek as Brad, yet found Brad to be the weakest character in the film when I saw it. It takes a good performance to turn that part into something engaging. I'm not entirely sure who the narrator was - because that part varies depending on where the show is. I think it may have been Gerard Kelly, and just as well, he was on the ball with the repartee and those heckling moments were the highlight of a very enjoyable evening.
The show wasn't entirely up my street, but I got enough enjoyment to leave with a huge smile on my face. I would probably attend another showing of it with my friend's, but quite frankly, wont be sitting through the film again any time soon. Edinburgh is the perfect setting for such a performance as well, I dont imagine that Glasgow would embrace the 200 transvestite's coming out of the theatre quite so willingly. We watched with amusement as 3 guys in their suspender's were wolf-whistled by a group of pub-reveller's as we walked to another bar. It was nice to see so much interaction and enjoyment being had from a ticket that cost us only £20.