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Rocky Horror Show, Sunderland Empire
THE opening message from Philip Franks’ silkily suggestive Narrator is firm: “No throwing anything, no spraying anything, no lighting anything. Other than that, anything goes” – and does frequently during Richard O’Brien’s naughty but nice homage to and parody of old B-movies.
“You are eerily well informed,” the Narrator tells the audience as they shout out lines, and the odd (very odd) suggestion as innocent college kids Brad and Janet fetch up at a ghostly mansion presided over by a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania”.
That would be Frank-n-Furter (played well enough on opening night by understudy Andrew Ahern in place of an indisposed Oliver Thornton), who’s alien to the ordinary and likes nothing more than a bit of this and a bit of the other. Especially the other.
The other would be his creation Rocky, played (but not at all performances) wearing very little by X Factor finalist Rhydian. Who knew that amazing ripped body was underneath his clothes as he faced Simon Cowell.
Sunderland’s very own Ben Forster – worthy winner of ITV’s Superstar contest – is an outstanding Brad, a super-geek in glasses perplexed by the saucy going-on and coming-off that befalll him and Roxanne Pallett’s innocent (but not for long) Janet. As she ends up in her bra, screaming “touch me, touch me, touch me”, we may assume that she’s coming out of her shell.
I’ve seen productions of Rocky Horror where the cast are having a better time than the audience, but here director Christopher Luscombe keeps a firm hand on the proceedings.
So, get dressed up, as many of Monday’s audience had, and let’s do the Time Warp again.
- Until Saturday. Box office 0844-8713022 and online atgtickets.com/ sunderland York Grand Opera House (with some cast changes) April 8 to 13. Box office 0844-8713024 and online atgtickets.com/ york
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