FORGET innuendo, subtlety and musical theatre as you may know it because The Rocky Horror Show is a riotous, hedonistic, psychedelic spectacle.

This cult classic is all about killer heels, fishnets and lashings of eyeliner - and that was just the audience at Sunderland Empire.

Monday marked the start of a six-night run of Richard O’Brien’s parody-cum-tribute to science fiction and low budget horror movies which tells the story of squeaky clean college kids Brad and Janet’s encounter with the promiscuous Dr Frank’n’Furter.

As a show ‘virgin’ I was aware of the surrounding hype and audience interaction but experiencing it first-hand is the only way to fully appreciate the devotion of its following and their leading part in proceedings.

Fancy dress aside, the outrageous callouts from an alternative script provide an additional dimension of hilarity and vulgarity.

As well as the characters getting it in the neck, celebrity narrator Dom Joly, of Trigger Happy TV fame (the one with the Nokia phone), was also in the firing line with stinging jibes about his career. Even he said they were harsh but fair.

But the real delight was on the stage where the cast and live band offered up a feast for the eyes - and senses - as they whizzed through the two-hour production complete with timeless hits including Sweet Transvestite and the pelvic-thrusting Time Warp.

Characters made famous by 1973’s inaugural West End show and countless reproductions on stage and on screen were as funny and freaky as ever.

But the real stars of the show were undoubtedly Stephen Webb as Frank and Callum Evans as Rocky.

Extrovert and scandalous Frank had us transfixed as he manipulated and murdered his way through the show while his creation and sexual plaything - blond and with a tan - showcased his superhuman strength in somersaults, lifts and holds.

The Rocky Horror Show is at the Sunderland Empire until Saturday.