Theatre Review: THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW – Palace Theatre, Manchester

Winning over loyal fans and first-timers, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is extremely enjoyable, high-octane party

4 out of 5 stars

Dust off those fishnets, squeeze into that corset and glitter yourself head to toe for a night of raunchy mayhem at Richard O’Brien’s original rock and roll musical, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW follows an evening of diabolical chaos when strait-laced college sweethearts Brad (Ore Obuda) and fiancée Janet’s (Hayley Flaherty) car breaks down on a dark, rainy night.

As they seek refuge in an eerie mansion, their innocence and commitment to each other are tested by the risqué homeowner, Dr Frank N Furter (Stephen Webb). Frank, a cross-dressing mad scientist, uses his guile and provocation to warp the couple’s minds, inviting them in for a night they could never forget. THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is a high-octane party, with sensational hits such as SWEET TRANSVESTITE and hip thrusting crowd-pleaser TIME WARP.

Webb oozes charisma as Frank and is extremely enjoyable to watch. His electric energy is palpable, offering the audience plenty of tongue in cheek laughs and mischievous moments. However, Webb’s unidentifiable accent dropping ever so slightly somewhat distracts from his sensational performance.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW has become a cult classic with popularity only growing from the 1975 film adaptation and is now fast approaching the 50th anniversary next year. Yet, what can’t be experienced watching the film at home is the ever-anticipated audience participation from theatregoers, an area which Narrator Phillip Franks relishes.

Franks elegantly toys with the audience as lines are thrust out from various seats, who responds with his own quick-witted, topical lines, drifting ever so slightly off-script to provide comedic moments enjoyed across each row. You can tell Franks is enjoying himself, and he leaves you wanting more, more more…

Obuda, a TV host, who regularly frequents the BBC, seems like an interesting choice to be thrusting his hips to the TIME WARP and yet encapsulates the audience with his portrayal of Brad. Obuda offers sombre moments, impresses with musical numbers, and dazzles with dance moves; it is not surprising that he’s previously won STRICTLY COME DANCING.

Perhaps a favourite to watch is triple-threat Flaherty, perfectly playing the all-American sweetheart Janet who flutters across the stage with grace and impresses with her vocal range.

Special mention is well deserved to Hugh Durrant’s well-crafted set design, which swiftly transitions through scene changes effortlessly. A film strip border ever-present above the stage cleverly offers the audience a view of the band elevated above.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is for the loyal fans and the first-timers; it’s a cult classic that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW runs at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, until 22 January 2022