Review – Rocky Horror Show

Saturday 30 December 2006

David Badella as Frank N Furter

It is rarely a an indication that one is witnessing a theatrical tour de force when the main talking point in the interval concerns the windscreen wipers on a car.

But that these were the high point of the first act was the general consensus among the West End Whingers entourage unfortunate enough to have been drafted into last night’s visit to the latest touring revival of The Rocky Horror Show currently playing at the Comedy Theatre in Panton Street.

Phil (who saw the original production at the Royal Court in 1973!) was unable to attend as was preparing for his new year’s eve party but it was not long into the show before Andrew was wishing that he too had dedicated his evening to skewering pineapple chunks onto cocktail sticks.

David Bedella (above) – so excellent in the original production of Jerry Springer The Opera – was rather disappointing as Frank N Furter. Languid and louche, but without much in the way of excitement, he simply came across as Julian Clary on an off-day.

Brian Capron – who plays the narrator until 6th January, to be followed by Steve Pemberton and Danny Baker- failed dismally to bring any authority to the proceedings (Andrew didn’t know who he was but has since been advised that he played Richard “Tricky Dicky” Hillman in something called Coronation Street apparently).

Julian Essex-Spurrier as RockyGood things can be said of a few cast members: Shona White’s performance as the bookending usherette pulled the stops out for Science Fiction Double Feature; Suzanne Shaw (who was apparently in something called Hear’say) makes a good fist of Janet and Julian Essex-Spurrier (left) in the usually thankless role of Rocky impressed everyone.

But at times it was difficult to tell how good the singing was. Despite general over-amplification of the voices, the sound balance was completely askew, with the band drowning out most of the numbers.

And all of this misery was played out on one of the dreariest and cheapest sets ever seen in the West End. Andrew’s heart sank when full-height ladders slid onto the stage from the wings. Chicago has a lot to answer for in this respect. The current production of Cabaret proved how limited this device is: once the performers have climbed them, there’s little they can do but clamber down them again.

Even the die-hard Rocky Horror fans present struggled to get into the spirit. A handful had dressed up and began by entering into the traditional shouting of call-backs at the stage. Some credit to the production which had accounted for this and prepared some crude ripostes to throw back at the audience, but the fans’ enthusiasm soon waned resulting in not a few pauses as the performers waited in vain for the audience to participate.

A couple of people stood up to do the Time Warp but they sat down after the first chorus, defeated by the complete lack of verve. Maybe the Friday 9pm show is a bad choice, the cast having finished their previous performance only one hour before at 8pm.

For whatever reason, the windscreen wipers remained the stars of the show, and only the bed scenes in which Frank N Furter seduces both Brad and Janet raised any kind of smile.

At the end of the show, Badella announced that over the seasonal period the production was supporting Amnesty International which – among other things – apparently protects our freedom to wear fishnets although one finds no mention of this anywhere on their website.

This facetious remark prefaced an invitation to put our hands in our pockets and drop money into the buckets waved at us at the exits. How much money the production company or the theatre were putting in was not explained, but it was almost more temptation than Andrew could bear not to retrieve the cost of the tickets out of the buckets.

We are sure Amnesty International would quite understand.


2 Responses to “Review – Rocky Horror Show”

  1. bananasfk Says:

    Interesting, i was planning to see perhaps not now. About the website – when i looked at it it was a ‘flash’ website – all flash websites are awfull since they run scripts, and it appears now soon become unmanagable.

    I try and aviod flash sites, while the flash site might look ‘themed’ its usabilty usually sucks – youve just found another reason (not updated) to add my list of why flash sucks.

  2. You’re right, bananasfk. Flash websites are the pits but – hey – if you don’t want anyone to link to any of your pages and don’t want the search engines to find you and do want to frustrate your visitors then there’s no better way to build your web page.

    Glad we’ve saved you some money too!

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