Whoever would have guessed, when the Rocky Horror Show burst into decadent life back in 1973 in a studio space at the Royal Court Theatre, that it would still be going strong more than 40 years later?
Rocky is a theatrical phenomenon which has grown in popularity, winning new young audiences to add to the diehard fans with every successive tour. The current tour started in December, and is at the New Wimbledon Theatre this week.
The RHS is a record-breaker in many ways, existing in a bizarre sexual Time Warp all its own. What other show attracts devoted fans willing to turn up at venues in basques and fishnets (and that’s just the blokes) even when the temperature is close to zero?
In case you’ve been on another planet lately and are unfamiliar with the plot, it concerns naïve American couple Brad and Janet, who seek refuge during a storm at a strange castle which belongs to Frank-N-Furter, a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania, who is busy creating a beautiful creature to love.
The bonus of this tour performance is that Steve Punt, once of Whitgift School, takes on the role of Narrator. This half of the comedy duo Punt and Dennis and Radio 4 regular is a perfect fit. Which is quite an accolade for a chap who admits his “experience in musicals is, frankly, quite limited”.
He was once in a school production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Yeomen of the Guard playing a young maiden of the tower, but his voice broke half way through rehearsals. Not a good start to his career.
Punt’s first encounter with Rocky was on a school trip to Germany. He saw the film in Hamburg and instantly became a fan, so needed no persuasion to take the role of the urbane, velvet-jacketed Narrator.
Liam Tamne is an adequate Frank, but lacks the twinkling sexy swagger and sweetness which really touches your heart at the end.
Ben Freeman has a Roy Orbison-ish voice as the uptight Brad and Diana Vickers is a cutely innocent Janet who clearly enjoys being corrupted.
Monday’s first night audience was quite sedate with only a handful of fancy-dressed punters in the audience. The passengers on the trams from Croydon could prove to be a sight to behold over the coming week.
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