The audience was full of ‘Rocky Horror’ die-hard fans glammed up to the nines, waiting in ‘antici-pation!’ The performance certainly did not disappoint – having only listened to a few of the songs before, I knew I was in for a treat. The first round of the ‘Time Warp’ got many of the audience on their feet doing all the moves, setting the tone for full throttle audience interaction from the get go.
The narrator, played by Philip Franks, guided us through the story; which I found helpful as I tended to get swept away by the sheer queer glamour of it all! His role was helped by the audience too, whose interjections made the performance even more hilarious. The favoured word of the night was ‘cock!’, which did not lose its hilarity as it was yelled out from all four corners of Hull New Theatre. Some audience interjections were very creative, and at times the actors had to re-jiggle their lines to make them fit, but it did not phase them one bit. Secretly we have all, at some point, practiced how we would enter a room of adoring fans. Duncan James as Frank N Furter, did so with utter sass and style as the ‘Sweet Transvestite’. The audience went wild and so did I. James’ husky yet smooth vocals gave a sultriness to Frank N Furter, which was lapped up by the adoring fans. Credit needs to be given to the costume designer Sue Blane and set designer Hugh Durrant, who orchestrated such complimentary and saucy designs that heightened the sex appeal of the performance to a new level. The duo of Jane and Brad, played by Shelby Farmer and James Darch, conveyed well the fall from innocence of the two lovebirds; as well as providing physical comedy alongside Duncan James.
I tend to observe the ensemble more than the main focus sometimes, as often you can see some great gems and the Phantoms were just that. Their dancing and vocals were perfectly timed and they used the extension of their bodies to create contorted yet sensual shapes. Unfortunately, there was a small, unexpected interlude due to a technical fault but as the actors took to the stage again, they were welcomed warmly by the audience. A hindrance I felt to the performance however was the sound levels. At times the fast-paced vocals were overshadowed by the music and so I lost some key moments. Sadly, there was also a lack of ethnic diversity in the cast, which for a musical that celebrates sexuality and breaking away from the norm, was a little disappointing.
Nevertheless, I was immensely entertained and I really got into the ‘Time Warp’ during the curtain call. It’s safe to say I will have all of the songs on a loop in my head for the next week, and I will be on the search for the original film as I now have ‘an itch to scratch’.