Leeds Grand Theatre – until 24 August 2019
With just a jump to the left and step to the right the Rocky Horror Show dances its way into Leeds this week. And over 45 years later this show is still as fresh as ever.
The fans were out in force in their basques and fishnet stockings, their yellow top hats and fishtail coats, their lab coats and all the other Rocky Horror paraphernalia. They were there to cheer—a huge roar went up when the house lights started to dim, but then they came up again and the roar died away; they were there to heckle and make their contributions to the fun (which they did every chance they got) and they were there to do the Time Warp —and they did it at every conceivable opportunity. At the curtain call, the entire audience was on its feet—doing the Time Warp again
Duncan James is an absolute force of nature as Frank n Furter. As strapping as he is statuesque in the quintessential Frank look of basque, stockings, suspenders and heels, James has a stage presence that oozes confidence and vigour. Whilst previous leads have played Frank as sophisticated and mysterious,James gave a fresh, vibrant and brilliantly scandalous performance as Frank ‘n’ Furter, with spot on comic timing. For me he was a quite a butch Frank, different but still fabulous. 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.
Sweet Transvestite and Make You A Man were real standouts as his fine vocals filled the air. He nails Frank’s arrogance and frantic showman persona to a tee and earned a well deserved standing ovation.
Kristian Lavercombe (normally Riff Raff) was a natural fit for the narrator with a delightful charm that immediately drew the audience in. The narrator in Rocky Horror can make or break a performance as the interaction with the audience is a crucial part of the show. Lavercombe was exceptional – dealing with the hecklers and shouting, with witty asides and never putting down or insulting the audience.
Brad and Janet – played by James Darch and Joanne Clifton, both have excellent voices and portray young and naive with perfect charm. Clifton perfectly portrayed Janet’s transition from sexually repressed to sexually awakened with Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me a real treat, while Darch always obtained a grain of innocence in spite of the saucy shenanigans going on around him.
While Rocky Horror doesn’t have a huge cast, they all have a part to play with Laura Harrison eerie yet vampish as Magenta, Callum Evans definitely catching the eye as Rocky, Miracle Chance energetic and frustrated as Columbia and Reece Budin a real presence as Riff-Raff.
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 rises as one to do an encore of the Time Warp.