There was something in the Times yesterday, a column, can’t even remember who by, worrying about the pressure on gents to look good in the buff in the wake of the new David Beckham H&M ad. I’m not sure what they might have been talking about, let’s take a look:
Oh, hello there. Well, whatever conclusion you may draw from that, the point might be in this instance that we have been glorifying the male form in such a manner for oh, at least 40 years; at the very least since the titular Rocky Horror was born with the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head, and very little keeping his gold Speedos up.
And so, we mark the ruby anniversary of Rocky Horror with a brand spanking new tour. It’s on at the Empire until Saturday, and even on a Monday night, you can be assured you’ll encounter fishnets, corsets, mini top-hats and loudmouthed debauchery in copious amounts.
Although this blog loves Rocky Horror, it has never been quite so hard to gauge if a new audience would get what on earth is going on, on stage. This is a production that really preaches to the converted. If there was a criticism to be made, it was that some of the action happened too fast. It would have been nice to have a proper build up to the big reveal of Frank N Furter – however, once the cape’s thrown off and you’ve a toned gent in stack heels shaking his money maker at you – well (see also: David Beckham).
Ben Forster is probably the most charismatic Brad of recent times – usually, it’s easy to forget that character is even there. But he has a great voice and really throws himself into the comic role.
Rhydian Roberts, as Rocky, is a revelation. With a great voice, and even more incredible press up skills, he impressed despite the shocking excess of fake tan. Oliver Thornton as Frank was as beautiful and flamboyant as the character demanded. Lacking some of the sass it would be preferable to have seen, he brought a certain femininity to the role, which isn’t often how our Transexual hero is portrayed. Roxanne Pallett was suitably charming as Janet.
However, it seemed there was only one cast member who could really interact with the crowd well – Philip Franks, as the narrator. He had a more hands on role among the company than usual for the character, but coped brilliantly. Abigail Jaye – who blew me away as Evita last time she was on the Empire stage – didn’t seem to do much in her twin role as Magenta and the Usherette, which is something that doesn’t really add up, and why everyone including Frank started talking in cod-Eastern European accents when Magenta and Riff Raff revealed their true identities, it was hard to say.
Again, the end, where some of the characters we’ve started to care about meet their doom, was not given any kind of dramatic tension – it just seemed to be, like so many other scenes, just stuff that had to happen to move the show along.
Set designer Hugh Durrant deserved praise for bringing a new look to a very familiar show. As ever, Rocky Horror was great fun, and a great tribute to 40 years of pervy, brilliant nonsense.
Read MADEUP’s interview with Brad Majors himself, Ben Forster, here.