Rocky Horror Show Review

Darlington Hippodrome – until Saturday 8 January 2021


©The Other Richard

I don’t think it’s a secret that I love the Rocky Horror Show and I have seen it many times.  But my visit to see it in Darlington was very different, in that we had a very polite and well behaved audience!

Audience participation is a huge thing with Rocky Horror and there were a few people dressed up, but for once these were in the minority and more conservatively dressed amongst us was the norm.  There were some “helpful” heckles to move the story along, but these were from lone voices and not full chants and they didn’t get all the audience chants, the cast could be seen expecting an aside and moving on after getting nothing

Philip Franks was, however, a very competent Narrator and managed to move on the proceedings even when faced with a quiet audience.  His ad libs were hilarious, even causing the cast to corpse.  He really shines in his role and, for me, is one of the best Narrators I’ve seen.

Whilst previous leads have played Frank as sophisticated and mysterious, Stephen Webb gave a fresh, vibrant and brilliantly scandalous performance as Frank ‘n’ Furter, with spot on comic timing.  Excitable like a child in a sweet shop, his vocals – especially in his final solo piece – were outstanding and he seemed to love the audience as much as they loved him, interacting well.

Brad and Janet are played by Reece Budin and Hayley Flaherty, both have excellent voices and portray young and naive with perfect charm.  Almost stealing the show, Joe Allen gave us his superb version of Eddie/Dr Scott. A fabulous rendition of both Hot Patootie and Eddie’s Teddy and high kicking in a wheelchair showed what a star he is

Filling the shoes of Richard O’Brien is Kristian Lavercombe, a near perfect version of Riff Raff.  His mannerisms, acting and comic timing show why he has played the role more times than his creator.

There isn’t a weak link in this show at all, performers, musicians and outstanding production make this one of the best versions of Rocky Horror to tour in a long time.It’s a fan favourite, full of innuendo, an adult pantomime, camper than Christmas, and a guaranteed standing ovation when the audience finally rises as one to do an encore of the Time Warp.





Wind of Change, in association with Cahoots Theatre Company, today announce the world première of Tim Walker’s Bloody Difficult Women, charting the events behind the court case Gina Miller brought against Theresa May in 2016 and what has ensued. Stephen Unwin’s production opens at Riverside Studios on 1 March at 7.30pm, with previews from 24 February, and runs until 26 March.

Tim Walker said today: “There are a lot of people who do not want this play to be staged, and, in all honesty, I couldn’t give a damn. I’m determined to see it go on, no matter what, as it is about so much more than a courtroom showdown between two determined women. It explains how we’ve got ourselves into this bloody awful mess. It is a play that is not so much angry, as incandescent with rage.”

Wind of Change

in association with Cahoots Theatre Company


The world première of


By Tim Walker

Director: Stephen Unwin; Designer: Nicky Shaw; Lighting Designer: David Howe

Sound Designer: John Leonard

24 February – 26 March

“If standing up for what you believe to be right is being ‘bloody difficult’, then so be it”

Theresa May

Tim Walker’s brand-new drama sees the tumultuous political events of recent years played out in a power struggle between two determined women.

His intensely human account of the court case Mrs Miller brought against Mrs May makes for revealing and often very funny theatre, but ultimately it’s a tragedy, where there are no winners, only losers.

Walker brings the story bang up to date in a dramatic finale which says so much about the deep divisions we still have in our country.

Tim Walker is an author, broadcaster and British Press Award-winning journalist. He had a unique insight into the cases Gina Miller brought against the governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson as he advised her on media strategy on both occasions. He has worked in staff positions on The Observer, the Daily Mail and The Sunday Telegraph, where he was the theatre critic. More recently, he has written columns for the Daily Mirror and The New European. He stood briefly as the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in Canterbury in the last election. Star Turns, his latest book, was published in September.

Stephen Unwin directs. Unwin founded the English Touring Theatre in 1993. For the company, he directed more than 30 productions of classical and new plays, including award-winning productions of Hamlet with Alan Cumming, Hedda GablerHenry IV Parts One and Two with Timothy and Samuel West, King Lear with Timothy West, The Seagull with Cheryl Campbell and Ghosts with Diana Quick and Daniel Evans. These transferred to the Donmar and the Old Vic. He produced two plays by Jonathan Harvey and Peter Gill’s award-winning The York Realist as well as Sir Peter Hall’s production of Uncle Vanya. In 2008, he became Artistic Director of the new Rose Theatre in Kingston, which he ran until January 2014. His productions there included Hay Fever with Celia Imrie, The Importance of Being Earnest with Jane Asher, The Lady from the Sea with Joely Richardson, The Vortex with Kerry Fox and Day in the Death of Joe Egg with Ralf Little. He hosted the very successful Time to Talk series with 50 leading actors and personalities. Also an author, he has written 10 books on theatre, drama and related subjects, as well as numerous articles for newspapers and journals. He is also is active in campaigning for the rights of the disabled. He is Chairman of KIDS, a national charity which provides a wide range of services for disabled children, young people and their families.


We have been granted the use of Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre’s See It Safely mark. The mark certifies that we are complying with the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure the safety of our staff and audiences. You can find out more here [–our-covid-measures or link to] about the measures we have been putting in place ready for your visit, and what you will need to know beforehand.

Michèle Taylor appointed MBE for services to Theatre and Disabled People

Michèle Taylor (Director for Change, Ramps on the Moon) is appointed MBE for services to Theatre and People with Disabilities as part of the New Year’s Honours list and has released the following statement:

“I am delighted to accept this award for services to Theatre and People with Disabilities. 

Like any award, this honour is about the work of a whole team: it is a privilege to be Director for Change at Ramps on the Moon, working with consortium partners to make meaningful change so that disabled people can take our place in the mainstream theatre industry. Sarah Holmes, Chief Executive at The New Wolsey Theatre, has been a particularly important ally to disabled people working in theatre; without her, Ramps on the Moon would never even have happened and it has been a real pleasure to work alongside her in this endeavour.

I have been delivering training and giving advice to cultural organisations for more than 30 years. My work has always been about making disabled people more visible across our cultural industries, demystifying disability equality and debunking the myths around making the necessary changes. It has been exciting to see that work amplified and platformed in new ways since we set up Ramps on the Moon in 2015, with thanks to the support of the Arts Council. 

Ableism is being challenged in the theatre industry and our wider cultural sector like never before, but if the last two years have shown us anything, it is that the place of disabled and deaf people is precarious; we cannot rest in this work.

I see this award as a celebration of what disabled and deaf people have achieved in fighting ableism, and an acknowledgement of the importance of continuing to work for equality in order to enrich our cultural landscape.”


Michèle Taylor works as Director for Change for Ramps On The Moon. This is the Arts Council Funded consortium aiming to change the theatre sector by bringing more Deaf and disabled people into the sector and making them more visible.

Michèle has more than 25 years experience working in arts and heritage, focusing particularly on disability issues, and a background in professional theatre having performed in, written and directed shows for all ages (credits include work with Graeae and Roundabout Theatre Companies). She is therefore well-placed to support the 7 partner organisations to embed sustainable change and to disseminate their learning so that the wider theatre sector can benefit.

Michèle set up her own business in 1992 to work at that edge where disability and ‘the mainstream’ meet, training and advising organisations on making their practices, policies and premises inclusive of disabled people. Since then, her practice has broadened out to take good account of changes in the legislative approach and in recognition of equality and diversity principles as a whole.

She is a Registered Member of the Institute of Equality and Diversity Professionals, a qualified psychotherapist and accredited coach as well as being an experienced facilitator and trainer.

Previous clients have included strategic bodies such as Arts Council and local authorities as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal Opera House, Universities including Nottingham and Gothenberg and the University of the Arts in London, and the Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute. She has been involved for nearly 10 years in an initiative in the Western Balkans supporting Museums to develop policy and practice around disability.


Ramps on the Moon is an award-winning Arts Council funded collaborative theatre network that comprises of core consortium members: New Wolsey TheatreLeeds Playhouse, Birmingham REP, Nottingham Playhouse, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Sheffield Theatres.

Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme (RTYDS) and Wiltshire Creative are Associate Partners of the network.

Ramps on the Moon’s aim is to elevate and normalise the place of disabled and deaf people in mid-scale mainstream theatre, and the consortium partners are excited by seeing diversity as an engine for even greater creativity.

Ramps on the Moon’s accolades to date include an Olivier Award nomination for Birmingham REP’s production of The Government Inspector, the UK Theatre Award for Best Touring Production 2017 for The New Wolsey’s production of The Who’s Tommy, and the 2017 UK Theatre Promotion of Diversity Award to The New Wolsey for its work on Ramps on the Moon.

Ramps on the Moon most recent project was award-winning playwright Bryony Lavery’s critically-acclaimed adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, produced by Leeds Playhouse in association with Ramps on the Moon, which was made available to stream during Autumn 2021.