Five years ago, Brighton said goodbye to the traditional pantomime in favour of more modern musical shows. This is the second time in four years that The Rocky Horror Show has filled that gap and, in many ways, it’s the perfect panto replacement – the same cross-dressing, the topical jokes and, above all, the audience participation.
You know what you’re going to get with Rocky Horror and Christopher Luscombe’s high-octane production doesn’t disappoint. Luscombe is a veteran of Rocky Horror productions and could probably do this in his sleep: it’s slick, it’s funny, it’s fast – possibly even too fast, some of the narrative gets a bit lost – but above all it's entertaining.
The whole cast throw themselves into the roles with gusto. Liam Tamne is a sexy, swaggering Frank N Furter, Kristian Lavercombe‘s Riff Raff boasts a terrific rock voice, while Ben Freeman and Diana Vickers are a wholesome (but not too wholesome) Brad and Janet. Dominic Andersen brings a human touch to the eponymous Rocky, demonstrating it’s not all about the body – although some audience members may have disagreed.
Special plaudits go to Steve Punt as the Narrator; he handles all the audience interruptions with some aplomb, never looking uncomfortable in what could be a tough gig. Other cast members seem a bit more ill-at-ease with the bearpit atmosphere but will probably toughen up later in the run.
Frank N Furter’s final number, 'Don’t Dream It, Be It', could almost be an anthem for Brighton, certainly one that the dragged-up, besequinned audience could relate to. By the end of the show, the whole audience is on its feet doing 'The Time Warp', a song echoing round the streets of Brighton some minutes after. Who needs pantomime when there’s a Christmas show as fun-filled as this?
The Rocky Horror Show runs at the Theatre Royal, Brighton and then tours the UK in 2016