REVIEW Rocky Horror Show Bristol Hippodrome:
It’s performances like Rocky Horror Show at Bristol Hippodrome, last night that genuinely makes theatre magic.
This enduring musical feels timeless, with its energetic and playful nod to B Movies. Rocky Horror itself long ago achieved cult status with its own 1975 cinema version. Celluloid echos in the almost comic strip set design by Hugh Durrant.
If you are new to the Rocky Horror show, you will probably be puzzled by some of the audience participation. This has a long history, mostly connected to the 70’s film version. Some of those lines have been shouted by different generations for over 40 years. It’s also great to see inoffensive contemporary politics and current affairs making their way in too.
Laura Harrison as the Usherette, opens the show with a staggeringly good Science Fiction Double Feature, bringing the excitement levels up from the off. I don’t think I have seen a show with this much energy and joy from an audience in a very long time. The energy on stage is also incredible considering the small cast number. They are ably backed by four Phantoms Reece Budin, Shelby Farmer, Katie Monks and Jake Small.
This is a fabulously great cast all around. They are every inch the characters Rocky Horror audiences want to see and all fantastic vocalists.
Trigger Happy Dom Joly is a joy with his droll Narrator, not afraid to both appropriately challenge responses and take it on the chin with self-deprecating good humour. “Wouldn’t it have been great if someone had played the Nokia ringtone at him,” my friend said during the interval. Absolutely. I couldn’t see him without hearing him squeak ‘Mr Gund’ or shout ‘ciao’ in my head.
Tim Curry is the Frank-N-Furter benchmark for this show. Duncan James against this proves he’s not just stunt casting with his charismatic performance of the much-loved character. He’s a harder and gruffer Dr, but knows exactly how to play this part with aplomb.
Joanne Clifton is back to the Hippodrome having delighted Bristol audiences last year with Flashdance. She’s perfectly matched against James Darch’s ‘asshole’ Brad.
Laura Harrison, Kristian Lavercombe, Miracle Chance, Ross Chosari and Callum Evans as Magenta, Riff Raff, Columbia, Eddie/Dr Scott and Rocky respectively, also shine throughout.
For a show that’s quite liberating with inadvertently very relevant 2019 themes, audience expectations are very rigid, possibly more so than any other stage show. A hugely enthusiastic standing ovation that started as the lights were still dimming on the final notes of the song proved that all expectations were exceeded.
This was such a fantastic show, one of the best commercial productions I’ve seen in Bristol this year. Energetic, witty, liberating, perfectly performed and hugely entertaining.
Rocky Horror Show stands the test of time as one of the greatest, ageless pieces of musical theatre history. It’s on at The Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday 22 June 2019.