Theatre Review| The Rocky Horror Show – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

It’s…astounding!

The cult classic, The Rocky Horror Show, has found its way back to Southampton as part of its world tour, boasting a star-studded cast to boot. It’s hard not to miss it, for all the fans and audience members flocking to the Mayflower Theatre in their corsets and suspenders and golden tailcoats for the evening performances!

Confession time: until this week I was a Rocky Horror virgin. I saw the film a long long time ago, so my memory of the story was rusty when I took my seat in the theatre. I knew all the big numbers (Time Warp, anyone?) but I had no idea what I was letting myself in for!

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If, like me, you’re completely new to it all, here are some things you might like to know before we go any further:

  1. Dressing up is (almost) mandatory . You’ll be taking your place next to men in maid’s outfits, people in stockings, and plenty of glitter and sequins. This is not your average night at the theatre. You don’t have to join in…but prepare to be rather outnumbered if you don’t!
  2. Audience participation is a big deal. You might be used to sitting in silence aside from applause and cheering, but this is a little bit different, and may take some getting used to! The biggest fans will be shouting out lines and witty callbacks, and will even get to their feet. Brace yourself for a rowdy night, have a go yourself, or get those lungs ready for some whooping and whistling!
  3. This is one big party. The audience is so clearly having the best time and it’s contagious. Just relax and…well…”Give yourself over to absolute pleasure!”
  4. It’s sexy stuff. Don’t be surprised if you too fall for the charms (and cheeks!) of Frank-N-Furter; sex is celebrated, and pleasure is the name of the game. Prepare yourself for some serious thrusting and little left to the imagination.

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If you’re not already clued up, the story follows the prim and preppy newly engaged Brad and Janet, who break down in a storm and retreat to an old castle for assistance. What they find, instead, is a house full of temptation, tricks and Transylvanian transvestites.

Duncan James – yes, of Blue fame! – as Frank N Furter is sumptuously sexy; a star in stilettos and stockings who completely steals the show. You’d be forgiven for getting distracted by his body in that corset and stockings combo at first, but then he opens his mouth and knocks the audience for six. He is clearly having a blast in the role, too, which adds even more sparkle to his performance. It would, in my opinion, be worth getting tickets just to see him perform.

The talent doesn’t end there though; Joanne Clifton wows as Janet, as does Ben Adams (yes, from A1!) in his role as Brad. Their vocals are incredible and can silence even the rowdiest fans with their notes.

Dom Joly’s narrator keeps things ticking along nicely and handles the banter from the audience superbly, often giving back as good as he gets. Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff is a comical delight, too, and Callum Evans as the scantily clad Rocky is much more than his muscles; he is charming with some astounding moves.

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The show is, overall, visually stunning; the costumes, the set, the lighting, and the band bring together a fast-paced stellar production that’s bold, brash and ballsy.

I’ll admit…I’m still a little bemused by the plot; unless you’re already a fan, or you read up on the synopsis before you go, don’t expect to be able to follow it completely. It’s wacky and wild but also wonderfully weird and, above all, fun.

The Rocky Horror Show will give you a night unlike any other; it will haul you onto your feet and make you weak at the knees, and leave you wanting more, more, more, more!

This saucy show may not be to everyone’s tastes; but if you fancy being thrust out of your cultural comfort zone, seeing what the fuss is about, grabbing your feather boa, and giving yourself over to absolute pleasure…well…

…Dr Frank N Furter and his family of misfits will see you now. Don’t keep them waiting!

The Rocky Horror Show is at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre until 13 April.

Tickets gifted by Mayflower Theatre, but my opinions are all completely honest, unbiased and my own.

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Image credits: Johan Persson

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