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Friday, 26 November 2010

It's all about DRAG: Rocky Horror Show at Richmond Theatre

The Rocky Horror Show is an enduring cult classic, something of which I was unaware until my experience a few nights ago at Richmond Theatre. This darling little venue, located on Richmond Green always has an assorted menu of shows from which to choose. I am so glad I chose to see Rocky Horror, I absolutely loved it. It is no wonder Richard O’Brien’s musical has a loyal fan base. It has been selling out to audiences for the last thirty years.

When I walked in I was stunned to see so many fully costumed audience members; an ecstatic hysteria surrounded me. I love dressing up – why did no-one tell me? As the show kicked off I realised audience participation went far and beyond just wacky outfits. This show relies on the screaming audience’s enthusiasm, and my audience had enthusiasm aplenty. The call and response between viewers and actors was so impressive I began to think it was staged, as the show went on it got rowdier and more improvised, it was absolutely thrilling to be part of it. Even before the famous ‘Time Warp’ song began, the audience were on their feet ready to boogie, soon after the rest of us were following suit and joining in.

Ainsley Harriott features as the fabulous narrator, and is side-splittingly funny, bouncing off the audience interjections with wit and charisma. And he isn’t afraid to let his hair down, joining in energetically with the chorus numbers and dancing about the stage. I cannot fault the rest of the cast, they are all outstanding. David Bedella, who returns to the role of Frank’n’Furter, owns the stage and commands attention, not just because of his daring sequined costume. Vocally the cast is brilliant, not a note is out of place, and the amplification helps make the sound more electrifying, competing with the lively band.

As I left I wondered about the phenomenon of Rocky Horror and why such a crazy show could be so popular and even relevant to people of all ages (the audience were hugely diverse). Perhaps because it acts as a form of escapism that viewers can participate in and feel part of. Or maybe it is a way of dealing with homophobia, poking fun at those hostile prejudices. Whatever it is, London’s West End seems to be all about drag at the moment with Priscilla Queen of the Desert continuing to excite audiences and shows like La Cage aux Folles running well in London, it seems we can’t get enough of it.

It is no secret that I love watching drag, I find it addictive even. And just like Priscilla I feel I could happily see Rocky Horror every week and still love it as much as the first time. Now I’ve lost my ‘Rocky Horror virginity’ I’m looking forward to watching this show for a second and third time.

Rocky Horror continues until Saturday 27 November, book here.

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