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The Pitman Painters (tour – Cambridge)

The Rocky Horror Show (Hornchurch)

By • Southeast
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I saw this show – the latest in the series of rock musicals which the Queen's Theatre has made into something of a speciality – at the Saturday preview. I have to tell you that a large portion of the audience was almost more fascinating than the stage action. Not only had it gone to considerable trouble (not to mention expense) to costume itself, it knew nearly every line of dialogue and each choreographed movement as well.

From its beginnings as a late-night show in the Royal Court’s tiny studio high up in the theatre attics to full-blown cult status, this take on every gothic novel and horror movie you’ve ever come across is something which you meddle with at your peril. Bob Carlton’s production has a vertigo-inducing set of stairs (another of Mark Walters’ complex designs) up and down which the men of the cast in their decadent drag outfits and ankle-twisting platform soles play out their dramas.

Musical director Julian Littman has the measure of his audience from his first words as the narrator; basically, if you can’t beat’em, join’em. Elliot Harper takes the title role, and makes it into something more than a caricature creation. Our dim young lovers are Sarah Scowen as Janet and Mark Stanford as bespectacled Brad. Natasha Moore introduces the show as the archetypical usherette of 1950s cinemas everywhere and goes on to materialise as self-sacrificing Columbia.

Frank N Furter and Matthew Quinn don’t, for me at any rate, fit each other as well as they might do. Tom Jude on the other hand, sawing away on his fiddle as demented acolyte Riff Raff is great fun, from his shaven head to his lop-sided lurches. As always with the cut to the chase… ensemble, the cast play a large range of instruments throughout. Who needs a pit band when your actors are as talented as this bunch?


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