Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show has returned to Manchester, following a triumphant comeback in the summer.
And this production invites you to blow away the cobwebs, after spending so much time at home, due to COVID restrictions.
Philip Franks, who you may remember from The Darling Buds of May and many other TV and theatre shows, is the narrator and your tour guide. His references to Number 10 and their penchant for parties, when the rest of us mere mortals were locked down, go down a storm.
Brad (Ore Oduba) and Janet (Haley Flaherty) are the hapless couple who, in classic horror movie mode, take a wrong turn and end up arriving at a mysterious castle.
But what awaits them is not a Norman Bates type figure; instead they meet Frank N Furter (Stephen Webb) – a wild thing who beautifully blurs gender boundaries.
He is joined by his sidekicks, including Magenta (Suzie McAdam), Riff Raff (Kristian Lavercombe), Columbia (Lauren Ingram) and a group of loyal phantoms.
Frank also creates a musclebound Frankenstein called Rocky (Ben Westhead), which adds to the mayhem.
To be honest, you could write the plot on the side of a stick of lipstick, and it almost irrelevant as the show is a love letter to drive-ins, B movies and the trail blazing path created by the likes of Bowie and Bolan, in terms of burying our perception of gender roles and expectations.
Suzie McAdam bookends the show with her brilliant turn as the Usherette and excels as Magenta; a cool, calm and calculated staple in the wacky world that we found ourselves in.
Kristian Lavercombe has been in more productions of Rocky Horror than the Conservatives have had lockdown parties, but he never looks bored and jaded. The opposite is true; he relishes the role and the interaction with the audience, playing the role with all the pauses you associate with Bela Lugosi’s turns in old horror films.
Lauren Ingram has a completely show stopping moment in act two as lovestruck Columbia, and it is worth the ticket price alone. She is vulnerable, kooky and incredibly funny.
And Ben Westhead brings far more than muscles to this bawdy bash. He has the vocal chops, too.
Reece Budin, Darcy Finden, Jordan Fox, Rachel Grundy, Danny Knott and Stefania Du Toit fill the stage with marvellous movement and a sense of mischief.
Joe Allen has two roles as Eddie and Dr Scott and embodies the heart of the B movie with both of them, and he has a nice surprise in store during the fabulous finale.
Ore Oduba has the moves and the straight faced comic delivery down to a tee. His vocals feel a bit underpowered, compared with previous Brads, and this may be because he has been on a road for a while now.
Haley Flaherty is a brilliant Janet – going from fresh faced and wide eyed to vivacious vamp, before your very eyes.
Philip Franks leaves you giggling at the news, whilst offering you a great escape from the very headlines he is mocking with intelligent and informed jokes.
Stephen Webb has played Frank N Furter before, and it shows; he completely embraces the role and flicks hecklers away with panache. He struts across the stage in a beautiful basque, seducing each and every one of us.
Christopher Luscombe’s production of Richard O’Brien’s cult classic The Rocky Horror Show is fast paced and very funny.
If you need to put a spring in your stilettoed step, grab your lippy, something bright, loud and proud, and a class of vino, and take your seat to attend Frank’s party.
Lockdown is over, so celebrate in style.
The Rocky Horror Show is at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 22nd January. Tickets are available here.