Alright I admit it: I’m a Rocky Horror virgin. I have neither seen the stage show nor watched the film. I have in short completely bypassed the alleged brilliance of the Rocky Horror experience. When people hear about this they seem surprised, even shocked. It’s like admitting that you’ve never seen a Tarantino film (something I was guilty of until fairly recently) or that you’ve never once felt the inclination to read a Harry Potter book. I also happened to be going alone to the Brighton performance, having only managed to get one press ticket, The Badger being not important enough to garner a plus one.
Some anxiety then accompanied my anticipation of the evening. Would it be sadder to dress up in Rocky Horror costume, and go alone, or dress normally but be surrounded by groups in fancy dress, therefore betraying my virginal status? A quick internet search proved to be alarming. Apparently it was fine, as a first timer, to dress normally but I was likely to be asked if I was virgin and then subjected to some kind of initiation ritual. Eeek. Further perusal of websites informed me that I had to bring toast, rice and newspaper to the event, to throw on stage as part of the audience’s participation in the show. Confused and overwhelmed, I arrived a few hours later at the Theatre Royal, normally attired but wearing red lipstick and uncomfortable high heels, with a small packet of rice in my bag, just in case.
Since having never seen the Rocky Horror Show this review is being written from the perspective of a first time goer, perhaps a disadvantage for a show that revolves around an audience’s familiarity with the script. So forgive me if the things that I remark upon seem wildly self evident to Rocky Horror veterans.
The pace of the show seemed initially slow at first; although the excited audience eagerly shouted out ‘asshole’ and ‘slut’ whenever Brad and Janet appeared, and the narrator proved to be none another than Christopher Biggins in predictably fine form, I was left initially underwhelmed. Even the advent of the Time Warp failed to get things going, with only a few members of the audience jumping up to sing along.
This all changed, however, with the entrance of Dr Frank N. Furter. Played with brilliantly salacious glee by David Bedella, he utterly dominated and enlivened the performance, embodying all that was gloriously smutty and extrovert about the show. Favourite moments of mine included the glove gag with Magenta, and the (very rude) bed scene with Brad and Janet.
I suspect that quite a few of the audience were virgins, as the level of audience participation never quite reached the pitch of frenzy that I’d been told to expect. There was also no mention of toast or newspaper, and the rice remained in my bag (where it spilt, incidentally). Nevertheless by the close of the show virtually everyone was up on their feet, (I even managed a passable time warp dance) and the cast received a standing ovation from hundreds of faux Frank N. Furters, Rockys and Magentas in the audience. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed myself. After all, who wouldn’t want to watch a glisteningly muscled young man prance about in skimpy leopard print underwear?