The Rocky Horror Show at New Wimbledon Theatre

Fortunately or unfortunately – for me, very much the former – there were fewer political references in Jackie Clune’s Narrator than there were when I last saw this touring production, narrated as it was by Philip Franks. Clune doesn’t take herself too seriously, and has some hugely likeable responses to certain audience callbacks. At the performance I attended there was a small but dedicated core of fans who provided most of the shoutouts: for the uninitiated, audience participation is very much part of the show, and provides much of the fun, substantially enhancing the theatrical experience. But if you’re looking for a cheat sheet, there isn’t one – there isn’t a script for audience lines, not least because the Narrator is at liberty to ad-lib and insert topical references (Clune managed to raise a laugh out of Liz Truss, which I think is quite an achievement), and so, more than usual, one never sees exactly the same show twice.

The Rocky Horror Show. Credit David Freeman.
The Rocky Horror Show. Credit David Freeman.

There were also quite a few people who had come dressed for the occasion one way or another, whether as one of the characters or otherwise sporting something unusual. The atmosphere was very pleasant, and it’s worth noting in a time of belt-tightening and penny-saving that there wasn’t the slightest hint of competitiveness amongst patrons. This is also reflected in the wider themes of the show proper – beyond the absurd and exaggerated expressions of many of the characters is not only an acceptance but an appreciation of the unconventional. Anyone who feels like they don’t quite fit in to whatever society at large considers to be ‘normal’ can witness, in this show, very different ways to live life.

The Rocky Horror Show is not quite the same as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, especially when it comes to suburban Wimbledon – ‘There’s A Light’ is accompanied by, well, lights in the audience from glow sticks and the torch function on mobile phones (go to a movie screening, and you might encounter water guns being fired, simply because the scene in question is in the rain). There are essays online (I read a couple) that systematically demolish the continued use of the word ‘slut’ to describe Janet (Haley Flaherty) in this day and age. True, it isn’t very nice. But in the absence of an alternative to such an established shoutout, I can’t see it going away any time soon.

There’s an energy and enthusiasm that permeates proceedings, which seemingly starts to flag towards the end of the second half, although even that is more to do with the relative seriousness of the storyline at that point than the production running out of steam. The overture at the start was loud with a capital L: one quickly gets used to the volume levels, however, especially when it’s the ‘good’ kind of loud, in which every line, sung or spoken, can be clearly heard. It’s all very slick, with a second-half show stop being quite possibly the fastest I’ve ever experienced, with the house lights back down again within a couple of minutes.

Overwhelmingly, it’s all about having fun, and the kind of escapism Rocky provides is much needed in these difficult times. Plot-wise, it didn’t entirely make sense to me, but who goes to this show for a riveting narrative? It’s all about the costumes and showtunes, coupled with some sharp and sparkling choreography, and pelvic thrusting from the stalls and the circle as ‘everyone’ does “the time warp, again”. Still fresh and amusing almost fifty years since its debut, it’s not difficult to see why the show has its fair share of repeat visitors. It’s over the top, and highly enjoyable. Dress up, or don’t dress up. Do some shoutouts, or just enjoy them. Indulge in it as little or as much as you like.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

The Rocky Horror Show is the story of two squeaky clean college kids – Brad and his fiancée Janet. When by a twist of fate, their car breaks down outside a creepy mansion whilst on their way to visit their former college professor, they meet the charismatic Dr Frank’n’Furter. It is an adventure they’ll never forget, filled with fun, frolics, frocks, and frivolity.

Directed by Christopher Luscombe, The Rocky Horror Show is the biggest party and features timeless classics, including Sweet Transvestite, Damn it Janet, and of course, the pelvic thrusting show-stopping Time Warp.

Still the sexiest & funniest show in town – EVENING STANDARD
Fierce and fabulous fun! – DAILY EXPRESS

A fun, slick and boisterous production. LondonTheatre1

It is an adventure they’ll never forget, filled with fun, frolics, frocks, and frivolity.

Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show Tour

New Wimbledon Theatre
Mon 21 Nov – Sat 26 Nov 2022

Theatre Royal Brighton
Tue 3 Jan – Sat 7 Jan 2023

Princess Theatre, Torquay
Mon 16 Jan – Sat 21 Jan 2023

Opera House Manchester
Mon 20 Feb – Sat 25 Feb 2023

Edinburgh Playhouse
Mon 13 Mar – Sat 18 Mar 2023

The Alexandra, Birmingham
Mon 27 Mar – Sat 1 Apr 2023

Stockton Globe
Mon 24 Apr – Sat 29 Apr 2023

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Mon 3 Jul – Sat 8 Jul 2023

New Victoria Theatre, Woking
Mon 17 Jul – Sat 22 Jul 2023

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