No other show has to work so hard to compete with its audience as The Rocky Horror Show. In the bar before curtain up, battalions of rugby players parade their fishnets and suspenders; normally respectable women who should know better are clad in acres of shiny PVC and day-glow wigs. A good smattering of wholesome Brad and Janet look-alikes are ready for the Timewarp. Can the performers hope to live up to expectations? Will the audience get the Frank N Furter they crave?
Luckily yes. The cast are in fine form. In this production, dance routines are tight and energetic, audience interventions are parried with wit. Philip Franks' narrator has a particularly good rapport with the audience who in turn treat him with gleeful cruelty.
What can make or break a performance of this kitsch sci-fi rock and roll fantasy is the singing. If the cast can't hit the big notes then all is lost – but here they all tackle their set pieces with a resounding gusto that makes each song, however familiar, a thing of great aural pleasure. Ben Forster's Brad, and Ceris Hine's Colombine, are especially strong in the tonsil department, almost operatic in their big moments.
The show belongs of course to Frank N Furter, and Oliver Thornton delivers the full hot dog with plenty of sauce. He struts, bullies, flirts and vamps, dominating the cast and audience. He holds centre stage with disdainful ease before crumpling pathetically before Kristian Lavercombe's twisted Riff Raff.
This RHS knows what the crowds have come for and never disappoints. Richard O'Brien's plot, a patchwork of B movie motifs and archetypal characters, is as flimsy as a pair of silk stockings - but then, who comes to the Rocky Horror Show for the story?.
Shed your inhibitions in the foyer along with your warm cardies and sweaters, and brighten up a dark winter's night with the highest of high camp musicals, perched on the highest high heels and hitting the high notes every time.