On Bonfire Night, I went to see The Rocky Horror Show for the first time in my life, and let me tell you, it was a firecracker of a show.
Going to see Rocky Horror is basically a rite of passage for any theatre geek, particularly the queer ones, and I can’t believe it has taken me 21 years before seeing it. As is tradition with Rocky Horror, I dressed up, donning my fishnets and feather boa, and I joined the line of Frank’N’Furters, Rockys, Magentas and Columbias. It was rare to see anyone in regular clothes, and you couldn’t move for big hair, stockings or feathers. As I took my seat, I was already grinning from ear to ear, taking in the pure joy radiating from the audience. As a theatre nerd, I roughly knew what type of night I was in for. As a Rocky virgin – both film and production – I couldn’t have predicted any of it.
Within ten minutes of the show starting, I was in stitches. For anyone unaware of the Rocky Horror proceedings, the tale is broken up by a narrator who comes out to make passing comments on the show and the wacky characters. His role depends on audience participation and quick wit, and he did not disappoint. Throughout the evening, Phillip Franks, who took on the role, reacted perfectly to the audience’s heckling, having my friends and I in stitches. It stays topical, poking fun at the government, whilst never being too serious, and the satirical lines landed every single time. It isn’t a show for the faint hearted – and not in the racism-disguised-as dark-humour way. It’s chock full of sex; sexy characters, sexy costumes, sexy dance moves, and sex itself. With most of the cast – and audience – in fishnets and stockings, it’s rare to see someone fully covered, and that’s one of the magical factors of this show. Everyone can be themselves in all their camp glory.
Right from the beginning, the audience were in full participation mode, calling back to the characters, jeering at the appropriate places, and even singing along. We were swaying as one to Science Fiction – Double Feature, singing our hearts out to Damn It, Janet, putting our torches on for Over at the Frankenstein Place, and being a community within every song. My favourite moment was during Time Warp, when every member of the audience stood up and danced. I’ve been to the theatre a ton of times, but this was hands down my favourite audience experience. It didn’t matter how old they were, their sexuality, or gender identity; everyone was defying norms and coming together as one.
I always knew it was a cult classic, and I knew I was going to love it, but I truly never anticipated to enjoy it quite that much. I knew some of the basics of the show, but each turn had me on the edge of my seat and fully absorbed in the proceedings. Everything was acted stupendously; Brad and Janet’s fear, Magenta’s sex-crazed state, Rocky’s utter innocence, and Frank’N’Furter’s absolute godliness. There is no show like this, and I can understand why it’s been so popular for so many years. Here’s hoping The Rocky Horror Show stays running for as long as can be.
As the campest show I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot – I can’t recommend this production enough. It’s a show full of innuendos, sweet transvestites, and science fiction. I have never had such a queer experience, and Hot Pattootie, I loved every single second of it.