Darlington Hippodrome – until Saturday 8 January 2021
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.