It’s hard to believe a ’70s low-budget musical about aliens from the planet Transylvania would become such a huge cult phenomenon. However, 46 years since its original production, the Rocky Horror Show remains an absolute classic, which inspired generations and became a symbol of sexual liberation which still resonates with the queer community.
Written by Richard O’Brien in 1970 and produced and directed by Jim Sharman, Rocky Horror Show is both a parody and tribute to science fiction and horror B-movies of the late 1940’s through to the early 1970’s.
After becoming a huge success in the UK and American theatres, despite the subversive and provocative themes considering the time, the play was later adapted into a film in 1975. The movie cast included O’Brien himself, who had already starred in the play as Riff Raff, alongside other cast members of the original production, as well as new names such as Tim Curry, Meatloaf and Susan Sarandon. Over the decades the show has been performed by companies all across the world and has also had a recent movie reboot.
The story follows newly-engaged Brad Majors and Janet Weiss who find themselves lost after their car breaks down on a stormy night somewhere near Denton, Texas. The couple seeks shelter in the bizarre residence of Dr Frank-N-Furter, hoping to find a telephone. What seems to be a good idea, however, turns into something completely unexpected when they find themselves caught in the middle of an alien plot, murder and much more they bargained for.
Directed by Christopher Luscombe and featuring timeless classics that everyone and their grandmother knows, including ‘Sweet Transvestite’, ‘Damn it, Janet’, and of course, the pelvic-thrusting ‘Time Warp’, the latest production of this sexy cult horror comedy premiered in Ireland on July 1 at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and will be running until Saturday, July 6.
I was a bit apprehensive going to see this latest adaptation of The Rocky Horror Show as the movie has a very special place in my heart and I never saw the play. I still remember watching the film for the first time as a teenager with my Dad and it’s one of those movies I would watch once a year at least, but I was so glad to find out it didn’t disappoint.
It’s really hard to imagine anyone else but Tim Curry playing Dr Frank-N-Furter, and Duncan James certainly had really big shoes (or heels, in this case) to fill. I think I speak for everyone when I say he exceeded all expectations, doing an outstanding job in portraying this iconic character and truly commanding the stage every minute – while looking damn fine in a corset, fishnets and heels! Not only has he an incredible voice, but he also manages to get the Dr’s mannerisms and devilishly wicked charm down to a T while also adding his own flavour and style in a way that actually enriches this already over the top character.
A couple of weeks before the Irish premiere, we met Duncan for an exclusive interview for GCNTV, where he talked to us about his role amongst other things.
James Darch and Joanne Clifton both do a good job portraying Brad and Janet and it’s fun to watch them being seduced by the demonic mad scientist. Laura Harrison’s Magenta was also a lot of fun to watch and Kristian Lavercombe’s ambiguous Riff Raff was fantastic, nailing down every single creepy and weird move of the original character. Callum Evans playing Rocky was really incredible, (despite James being so tall that Rocky only reaches his shoulder!) performing full body flips – and looking great while doing so in his tiny leopard speedos. The Narrator, played by Steve Punt, was one of my personal highlights, handling the audience’s often cheeky responses with witty charm and a lot of humour.
The set design was at first impression not too convincing, with a rather small cutout of the church where Brad and Janet get engaged and an almost cartoonish-looking car. Things changed when the action moved into the castle however as every setpiece worked perfectly in each scene: from the vertical bed – which offered two of my favourite scenes when Dr Frank-N-Furter seduces first Janet, then Brad – t0 the idea of using a glitter curtain for the pool scene in the movie.
The Rocky Horror Show is hilarious, sexy and irreverent but it’s even more fun if you are willing to participate: whether you know what to shout at any particular moment in the script (the cast will play along with it, even pausing to hear responses from the audiences) or if you want to dress up (or down), it makes the whole experience even better.
If you are a fan of the film or if you are simply looking for a great night out, make sure you don’t miss this!
Tickets are available on the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre website.
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