REVIEW: Fantasy musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show is unlike anything the Cambridge Arts Theatre has ever staged before
PUBLISHED: 15:43 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:26 16 July 2019
Photo credit David Freeman
Without doubt the most extravagant production to ever hit the Cambridge Arts Theatre stage, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is unlike anything else you've ever seen.
The audience treated the opening night like it was a real party: men and women dressed up in feather boas, stockings, gold hot pants, sparkling red coats and all manner of extravagant outfits (even the theatre staff are got in on the action). The extra colour gave the raunchy rock and roll musical a real edge - even before any of the cast had stepped on stage…
"It's very much a saucy show" teased one woman in the audience while a teenage boy nearby admitted "I'm a bit scared; I'm not sure what I've let myself in for". He was right to be: what ensued was an otherworldly, totally crazy rollercoaster ride of fantasy and hedonism.
Arms were swaying in the air and die hard fans of the movie sang every word of 'Sweet Transvestite' like it was their national anthem. As for the production itself - which is part of a sell-out worldwide tour - each of the characters came to life brilliantly; particularly the unnervingly creepy Riff Raff, who was expertly played by Kristian Lavercombe, while Stephen Webb gave a world class performance as Frank N Furter. The narrator (Steve Punt) was brilliant, breaking the fourth wall to tell the story and interact with the audience in real time - at moments it became something like a sexual innuendo pantomime.
The dance routines and solo numbers were pulled off to perfection too - of course 'Time Warp' had everyone in the theatre up on their feet. The set design was cleverly designed, too: the castle was gothic and creepy while the laboratory felt freakishly real). Overall the staging felt immersive - especially thanks to the neon strobes, smoke machines and impeccable band - with every detail thought about…
Something that definitely wasn't planned, though, was an evacuation just before the finale due to the theatre smoke alarm going off. But it didn't seem to faze the expert cast onstage; as the saying goes, the show must - and did - go on.
The narrator even weaved a witty last minute line into the climax - and it really summed up the unpredictable nature of the production, making an unforgettable show even more memorable for its madness.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday July 20.
For performance times and tickets visit www.cambridgeartstheatre.com/whats-on/rocky-horror-show