Theatre review: The Rocky Horror Show, The Playhouse, Greenside Place

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THERE are moments of unexpected pathos in The Rocky Horror Show. Each character has a rather tragic journey - anti-hero Frank-N-Furter is brutally rejected by the man he’s moulded to love him; engaged Brad and Janet suddenly find themselves alone and divided after their rather rude sexual awakening; and Eddie’s death causes no shortage of consternation for uncle Dr Scott and lover Colombia.

The Rocky Horror Show

The Playhouse, Greenside Place * * *

The show may have a jokey, deviant, gold-sequined surface, but underneath is a myriad of elements that everyone can relate to, engage with and even use to explore more extreme sides of their own personalities in a safe environment.

Which is partly why it has such a devoted cult following, with fans who’ll queue outside in -2 degrees, wearing just basques, pearls and bright red wigs.

Celebrating its 40th birthday this year, the show is certainly in fine voice even if it has shed somewhat more weight than it ought.

So ripped to shreds is the script that this current incarnation is more a ‘greatest hits’ of The Rocky Horror Show than the show itself. A cheery singalong, the story is held together by a fantastic turn from Philip Franks as the tongue-in-cheek Narrator who leads us by the hand into a dark, nightmarish 50s B-Movie with a side order of sauce.

Frank N Furter is played by a musclebound Oliver Thornton as more a sophisticated drag queen than the lady Tory MP with a fetish for surgical gowns and marigolds that Tim Curry first introduced us to.

The character is presented to us as a second-rate rock star, losing the over-the-top entrances and diva smoke effects of other productions, although there is the odd nod to Tina Turner in his mannerisms.

Playing manmade man Rocky is unexpectedly buff X Factor star Rhydian, who never quite gets the chance to show us more than his singing voice and bizarrely contoured abs.

What is clear is that there is a talented and creative cast on stage, particularly Kristian Lavercombe’s Riff Raff, yet the shortened run time and heavily edited script gives them no room for character development, meaningful interaction or a new impression of a well-worn part.

Janet (Roxanne Pallett) especially, seems like a Benny Hill pastiche rather than a girl exploring her own burgeoning sexuality.

Such drastic alteration really does nothing for the production but short-change the fans.

• Run ends Saturday.