The Rocky Horror Show – Bord Gáis Energy Theatre – Review
by Gearóid O’Byrne
4 Oct 2021 – 9 Oct 2021
“Let’s do the Time Warp again!!” And so it returns to Dublin, Richard O’Brien’s iconic stage show that premiered in 1973 and continues to thrill and entertain audiences worldwide. The 1975 film version (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) holds the record of being the longest-running theatrical release in film history as it is still on limited release some 46 years after its premiere. It played for some twenty years as a late-night screening at the Classic Cinema in Harold’s Cross and generations of Dubliners dressed up and indulged in the unique audience participation that marks this singular piece of theatrical work. In matters of sexual liberation, it shone a beacon in late 1970’s Ireland, and it should be remembered that as late as 1991 Thom McGinty, the performance artist known as the Diceman, was prosecuted for indecency for promoting a stage production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show by parading down Grafton Street, wearing a G-string, fishnet stockings and a flowing feather boa (which got caught in the door of the garda van during his arrest!).
So how does this current production rate? Well, suffice to say that some 40 years after he first danced the Time Warp in the Classic, this reviewer found himself on his feet doing the pelvic thrust once again! This production has toured around the world and has landed back in Dublin just at the time we all are tentatively venturing back into theatres once again.
The show opens with beautifully voiced Suzie McAdam as the usherette inviting us to the late-night double-feature picture show. When the show proper starts we meet Haley Flaherty as a delightfully innocent Janet Weiss being proposed to by her enthusiastic young beau Brad Majors. We then meet the Narrator, played with panache by Philip Franks, who deftly dealt with expected (and unexpected!) audience interjections throughout the performance and who had certainly done his homework as to what city he was performing in. The naïve young couple visits their old school college professor Dr Scott but a flat tyre leads them in search of help at a ghostly mansion where we meet Kristian Lavercombe as a wonderfully screechy voiced Riff Raff, Lauren Ingram as a manically insane Columbia and Suzie McAdam again as Magenta and the cast then enthusiastically performs the famous Time Warp Dance.
The fun really begins when we meet Stephen Webb as Frank N Furter, he really fills this role with a commanding stage presence exuding copious amounts of swaggering braggadocio. This part requires a balance of butch and camp and a physical insouciance which he readily embodied. The laboratory scene, a wonderful throwback to the early days of Frankenstein movies, introduces us to Frank N Furter’s creation Rocky (played by a suitable muscled Ben Westhead).
Things however take a turn for the worst after the arrival of Eddie the Rock ‘n Roller (Joe Allen) who comes to a sticky end. A hilarious bedhopping sequence unfolds as various parties find themselves tasting “forbidden fruits”! The arrival of Dr Scott (Joe Allen again) reveals that all is not as it may seem and the plot unwinds to its final conclusion.
This is a fast-paced punchy show with some great set-piece dances, excellent costumes, wonderful lighting and a superb band. The audience loved it and rose to their feet for the reprises. The perfect antidote to lockdown!