Rocky Horror Show Review

Posted on October 12, 2010

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With the Halloween season creeping up on us like a 13 year old carrying a pile of eggs, Grand Canal Theatre have embraced the October holiday with a five night run of camp, crazy musical The Rocky Horror Show.

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And, scanning the crowd beforehand, there are people who have gone all out, dolled up in replica costumes of the characters. Indeed, the audience participation (which I’ll admit, I wasn’t previously aware of) drew some of the best laughs from the crowd – at one point I thought Christopher Biggins would fall off the stage, laughing at responses from a few hardcore fans.

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Coming back to the stage though, Rocky really is a gem. A cult, classic, gem. From the moment you sit back and listen to ‘Late Night Picture Show’ right to the ending encore of ‘Time Warp’, which had everyone on their feet, clumsily following the actions.

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We’re introduced immediately to Brad and Janet, a good wholesome, innocent, American couple, or, if the audience participants would have you believe ‘Asshole’ and ‘Slut’.

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For someone who’s seen the film only twice, years ago, it would be easy to think that the best music was in the opening twenty five minutes, with the iconic ‘Time Warp’ crashing onto the stage around the twenty minute mark. It’s loud, it’s boisterous, it’s bloody brilliant. But it’s only the start of more madness.

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The introduction of the flamboyant, impulsive Dr Frank ‘N’ Furter sets in motion the course of the rest of the show – the disintegration of Brad and Janet’s morals (they were misusing them anyway) and the uncovering of Frank and Co’s true identity, as well as the unravelling of ‘muscle man’ Rocky who quite literally sparkles on stage.

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The pacing of the show is excellent and you almost feel as out of breath as the cast after some of the numbers. When the curtain goes down at half time, you realise that it’s only been 45 minutes long.

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The performances are excellent all around. Christopher Biggins draws wonderfully from the audience, getting a thundering applause on his first narration. Richard Meek and Haley Flaherty are excellent as the befuddled couple, giving over to pleasure. Ceris Hine has moments of slightly more serious acting as Columbia and her final outcome is one powerful enough to momentarily silence the audience. Elsewhere, Stuart Ellis and Kara Lane are suitably devious as the brother-sister team of Riff-Raff and Magenta.

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But the show belongs to David Bedella as Frank ‘N’ Furter. From his entrance in basque and high heels to the wonderful, heart felt rendition of ‘I’m Going Home’, Bedella shines with a booming voice and grabs your attention every time he walks, no, swaggers on stage. His comic timing is superb but the hints of danger in his character are also well realised, resulting in a well rounded (if you can use such a phrase in this character’s case) rollicking performance.

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I wonder did Richard O’Brien realise what his musical would become when he wrote it all those years ago. While it won’t scale the heights of the more serious, punching shows like Les Mis, or Phantom, it has a leading role perhaps just as coveted as any other. Speaking to David Bedella a few weeks ago, he said “I consider myself one of the luckiest guys on earth to have had the opportunity to play this role.”

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Dublin audiences will settle for one better. We got to see it.

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Posted in: Reviews