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Rocky Horror Show 2021

“…I am a regular Frankie Fan”

If there is a better way to welcome back the crowds to live theatre then I have yet to see it. This version of Rocky Horror Show, directed by Chris Luscombe and brilliantly lit by Nick Richings, brings all the camp goth horror rock that fans of the show demand, yet makes it still very accessible to any ‘virgins’ viewing for the very 1st time; the in jokes, the audience heckles and cast responses land perfectly but don’t alienate those who are viewing the greatest rock horror musical with fresh eyes.

The story; lost couple Brad Majors (Ore Oduba) and his new fiancé Janet Weiss (Haley Flaherty) stumble upon a castle inhabited by ghouls, aliens, dead bikers, creatures and of course, Frank N Furter (Stephen Webb) –an egotistical megalomaniac with a proclivity for shiny things – basques, whips, oiled torsos. Ably supported by his minions – Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe), Magenta (Suzie McAdam) and Columbia (Lauren Ingram) Frank corrupts the two lovebirds and so begins a night of debauchery which leaves them questioning their previously held values, their sanity and, who knows, perhaps life itself.

Ore Oduba as Brad is wonderful; brilliant comedic timing, character acting of the highest order and a powerful, yet vulnerable singing voice (especially during Once in your Life). His musical theatre star has risen very quickly, debuting in Curtains opposite Jason Manford just a few years ago and now delivering one of the best Brad’s ever.

Guiding the way through this smorgasbord of sin is our narrator, a role which has, in itself, become as central to the evening's enjoyment as any of the leads. Philip Franks embraces the tradition of breaking the 4th wall, engaging with the audience and expecting their heckles (most of which are, in themselves traditional). Franks adds in topical and current reference prompting much laughter and additional ribbing – Brexit, the cabinet, the economy and current social media trends are all cleverly woven into his responses to the delight of the audience.

Any production of RHS is a guarantee of a great night. Over the years the levels of greatness have varied but with this current tour, the experience the cast have, and with the brilliance of Brad and in particular the narrator, there is a 5 star gold seal on top.

Rocky Horror Show is at Sunderland Empire until Saturday 25th September.

Contains mature themes, flashing lights, rock music, blood, sex, partial nudity, funny one liners, feathers, whips, corsets, aliens, audio-vibratory-physio-molecular transport devices, naïve charm and plenty of muscle.

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