I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey…
In 1973 actor and writer Richard O’Brien first took audiences on a very strange journey indeed; recently engaged couple Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, after suffering a flat tire on route to visit former science tutor and friend Dr. Scott, seek help at an old castle and find themselves at the mercy of the perversity of mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter, who’s been, in his words, “making a man with blonde hair and a tan”. Things rapidly spiral into insanity at the hands of Frank-N-Furter, his servants Riff Raff and Magenta, and former lover Columbia. It was, you could say, a night out that audiences were going to remember for a very long time.
In this latest Australian production (it’s been touring here every few years since ’74), Rob Mallett and Michelle Smitheram play Brad and Janet respectively, but much attention has been given to the casting of Shane Jacobson as the Narrator, and Todd McKenney as Frank-N-Furter. McKenney in no way shies away from the challenging and iconic role, incorporating elements of undoubtedly the most well known Frank (Tim Curry), but also making it quite definitely his own; signature lines are delivered with panache to mass audience applause.
The same can definitely be said of Jacobson, and for very good reason. Rocky Horror – especially the film – is well know for its audience partici….pation. Throwing rice during the wedding, yelling out, “slut!” whenever someone says, “Janet”, etc; how is a stage production to incorporate such elements? Fortunately, Jacobson was well prepared for such an eventuality, with some crowning moments of comedy coming from his “off the cuff” responses, including a very nice nod to his dunny-cleaner past.
The cast also includes Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff – a role played by by O’Brien himself in the movie – with Amanda Harrison as his sister Magenta (and also as the Usherette), two put-upon domestics who serve Frank, and Nadia Komazec as Columbia. Much has been written about the tragedy of the love triangle between her, Frank, and the rock’n’roll fanatic Eddie (James Bryers, also playing Dr. Scott), and it adds nuance to what could easily be seen as a supporting character. Brendan Irving is the titular Rocky, who not only holds the Charles Atlas seal of approval, but also that of the woman sitting in front of me! They are supported by Bianca Baykara, Ross Chisari, Hayley Martin, Stephen McDowell, Hollie James and Geoffrey Winter.
So dust off your best leathers, get ready to do the Time Warp again, and go see a Science Fiction Double Feature; The Rocky Horror Show is back. Feather boas will be provided.
The Rocky Horror Show is on at Her Majesty’s Theatre until 26 August 2018. Tickets can be found via the Rocky Horror Show website.