Endearingly kitsch and trashily camp the Rocky Horror experience is more than just a night out at a musical. It’s a tribal experience, a playful debunking of theatrical sacred cows and a sexy romp through the gender bending and boundary blurring excesses of gothic horror.
This current production has great energy and vigour and offers some authentically good performances. The usherette, Kara Lane, gives us a strong opening and closing sequence and has a sweetly powerful voice. She also brings a great sinister presence to the role of Magenta.
Stepping into the high-heeled shoes of some illustrious predecessors as Frank ‘N’ Furter, David Bedella might have been just a shade daunted, but he has bouquets of camp energy and on the whole acquits himself well, even if at times his delivery lacks tonal differentiation. He needs more of the sexual undertones that are built into the role. Part of the potency of the role comes from a vulnerability that is mixed with the predatory sexual power, this is what gives Frank ‘N’ Furter his unpredictable edge. While Bedella offers us a bravura performance of high camp, he falls short of offering us any of the slower movements that might have had us breathless with anticip……ation. His voice, however, is fabulous. A rich, powerful bass it fits O'Brien's rock score like a satin glove, although as with any satin glove, longer is better, and had he sustained the notes for longer the impact would have been even more thrilling.
Haley Flaherty as Janet has a strong voice if it lacks the sweetness that she might have brought to the role. Mark Evans is magnificent as the dorky, asexual Brad. Evans possesses a solid, rock singing voice that fits the songs of his character perfectly and he dances well.
Ceris Hine is engaging and shrill as Columbia, but she really does not dig deep into the character. Columbia is a girl whose boyfriend is killed in front of her, plus she's in love with his killer. While Hine taps wonderfully for the role, she does not quite tap into the complexities of her character.
However, whatever this particular production lacks in terms of the layered ironies of the film, it more than makes up for in terms of the creative inventiveness of the theatrical set. Janet Bird’s set design is truly imaginative and witty with some enchanting puppetry and ladder work . The car is a triumph, with the phantoms bringing a slick, spooky playfulness to the opening scene. The Milton Keynes audience loved it and, decked out in glorious sequin and fishnet, were only too eager to shine their lights, and dance in the aisles for an evening of delicious but dangerous delights.