I would like, if I may, to take you on a not-so-strange journey…

It may seem almost theatrical sacrilege to alter any of the innumerably quotable and iconic lines from Richard O’Brien’s timeless tour-de-force, but given the frequency with which The Rocky Horror Show treads the boards and embarks upon tours such as this - borne, admittedly, mostly from the fervent, unparalleled devotion of its fanbase (garters 'n all) - it seems a touch amiss to label it as anything other than quite intensely familiar.

Sure, the post-modern, B-movie stylings of O’Brien’s camp, colourful romp are as madcap and raucous as ever, depicting as they do the bizarre, unexpected musical adventures that a newly-engaged couple embark upon when their broken-down car seems them fleeing to an ominous mansion, which is itself home to a dancing, thrusting cabal of colourful miscreants. But, from its joyful ensemble of iconic, whacky characters, endlessly entertaining moments of audience interaction (prepare for a fair few shouts of ‘slut!’, no less) to such seminal hits as ‘The Time Warp’ and ‘Sweet Transvestite’, every thrust, twist, beat and inch of Rocky Horror is eminently loved, familiar and practically worshipped by a broad canvas of theatregoers.

The real barometer for the success of any touring production of the show, then, is just how proudly, quirkily and bombastically it can stand in comparison to those that have come before it.

And it’s here where this current 'World Tour 2019’ doesn’t just ‘Dream it’; it takes a jump to the left, dodges any expectational ‘Sword of Damocles’ and proves to be an utterly glorious ‘wild and untamed thing’, bringing what’s quite confidently the best incarnation in recent memory of this beloved show to its enthralled followers.

Whether you’re a veteran of the brand or amongst the unsuspecting few to whom it will be their first foray into O’Brien’s mad, raunchy, screwball world, rest assured you’re in for the full-throated (at times quite literally!) Rocky Horror experience here. Hugh Durrant’s staging and Nick Riching’s spotlight-fuelled lighting are as dazzling and characterful as before (this being, aesthetically, the same touring & London production that has been doing the rounds for a few years now). Fleeting locales such as the early Churchyard and mansion exterior are presented in deliberately broad fashion as colourful, rotating flats, whilst the interior of Frank N Furter’s mansion and laboratory are given much more attention to detail - where said detail is, naturally, all neon lighting, splashes of colour and high-concept 50’s-esque kitsch.

A fitting subtitle to this particular ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature’, may, then be that it is a ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation of tours and runs that have come before, something perhaps best embodied in the exceptional 'best of' cast assembled this time round.

Stage and screen stalwart Stephen Webb is gleeful, mischievous and seductive as the iconic Frank N Furter, confidently stepping outside of the shadow of Tim Curry to provide a distinctive, machismo, yet no less devilish, take on the character. He also raises the roof with some towering vocals, not least of all in a tender and heartbreaking rendition of ‘I’m Going Home’. Strictly Come Dancing champ Joanne Clifton continues her musical theatre ascension as a note-perfect Janet, capturing the doe-eye ingenue’s spark and eventual decadence with aplomb, whilst James Darch proves a standout, crooning Brad. 

Laura Harrison is duly impressive as the show’s Usherette and Magenta both, whilst Ross Chisari mines plenty of laughs from every quip, gesticulation and questionable outburst of Dr Scott in particular (he also plays the doomed Eddie). Callum Evans, meanwhile, has his incarnation of the titular Rocky quite literally leap and bound onto the stage; bringing an eye-poppingly acrobatic edge to the character (stemming from Evans’ own highly-successful gymnastic background) which crafts an exciting, lithe take on a usually-stiff and rigid character, whilst still oozing the prerequisite masculinity and sex appeal.

And finally, in Kristian Lavercombe, the current production boasts a veteran Riff Raff, and with good reason; with soaring vocals and complete command of character and stage, he is one of the best parts of the whole thing, and surely right up there at the top of any self-respecting Rocky Horror fan’s wish-list when it comes to experiencing the show live.

Reviewing The Rocky Horror Show seems to become an almost increasingly futile task with each passing year; the love for the title and its merry band of followers seeming to show no sign of dimming any time soon. 

But it isn’t hard to see why it remains such a popular pull: here is gloriously irreverent, musically infectious and unashamedly celebratory theatre writ large. And, at a time where gender fluidity, sexual awareness and other such concepts are particularly en vogue, Rocky Horror proves its mettle as a show which gave a bravura middle finger to any prescriptive notions of conformity over four decades ago, carrying a legion of fans with it as a result.

Love who you want. Be what you want. 

And, for the love of all that is colourful, camp and sparkly, go catch this triumphant production of The Rocky Horror Show if you have even the slightest yearning for a fabulously fun time at the theatre.

It is, quite simply, the best it’s been. 

And that, dammit, is all that needs to be said.


RATING - ★★★★★

Runs 14th - 19th October 2019.

Tickets: 01902 429212​

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