Brett Herriot Review

Rocky Horror Show, Edinburgh Playhouse Review:

“A night of exuberant joy“

**** 4 Stars

June 1973, the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs Theatre, The cross-dressing world of Frank’N’Futer exploded on the cultural scene for the first time, 50 years later it’s still touring the world with its pastiche of the B Movies and rock and roll there is no greater a night of exuberant joy in the theatre than Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show. Which just a year after its last visit returns to Edinburgh, but instead of the intimate splendour of the Edinburgh King’s,  Frank N Furter and his gang of high heeled misfits return to the stage of the Playhouse.

The 2023 world tour production continues to find the show in fine form, with Stephen Webb putting on the high heels to play a vampy yet glorious Frank N Furter that is the centre of story of excess but ultimately just wanting to be loved.

The central couple of Brad (Richard Meek) and Janet (a sublime Haley Flaherty) deliver well especially with the vast array of heckles from the audiences. Meek brings a terrific stage presence and charm and his partnership with Flaherty exudes warmth and comedy joy.

Speaking of heckles, the role of the Narrator falls to Philip Franks who is on blistering form delivering comedy pelters freshly drawn from the latest news headlines, couple with an injection of Scottish humour and gives the whole production a great comedy edge.

Kristian Lavercombe is back as Riff Raff he must be truly the consummate performer of the character having performed the role in excess of 2000 times and matches up to creator O’Brien as the only actor to come close to immolating his greatness. Special Mention must go to Suzie McAdam who does double duty as the “Usherette and “Magenta” her voice soars around the Playhouse and bookends the show wonderfully.

Ben Westhead takes on the role of “Rocky” and gives it a real sense childlike innocence that almost totally refreshes the roll and boy can he pull off a pair of fishnet stockings and high heels and trust us, he is the ultimate in eye candy!

Director Christopher Luscombe has delivered the goods, getting to the heart of what Rocky Horror is and what it means to its audiences, although now it’s starting to feel too cut and tight coming in at 2 hours and 5 minutes with interval, to have Act 1 run at 38 minutes just feels like cheating the audience and undermining the ticket value, that said, he has set the cast a blistering pace but it works. The same is true of Nathan M Wright’s Choreography which includes an awesome time warp; he does elaborate on this classic but does it justice as do those performing it.

Huge Durrant’s Set still stands up well, however its heavily brought in on the Playhouse stage, but it retains its charms, Add to that Nick Richings spot on Lighting design and Gareth Owen sound design that ensures Charlie Ingles excellent 5 piece band can truly rock the Playhouse and beyond.

The Rocky Horror show has secured its legacy in musical theatre and that evident by the audiences who return time and again to this cult classic!, while its transfer back to the Playhouse means its looses that wonderful intimacy it had at the Kings, the connection to a modern musical classic remains strong as ever!  So what you waiting from dig out the fish nets find those stilettos and get to the Playhouse and Time Warp again!

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 18th March, for tickets go to: The Rocky Horror Show Tickets | Edinburgh Playhouse in Edinburgh | ATG Tickets


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