I went on a road-trip to Manchester at the start of this week to see The Rocky Horror Show at the theatre. It was hubby’s sister who suggested going as The Rocky Horror Picture Show is her son’s most favourite film ever and he’d always longed to see it on stage. I’ve seen the film a couple of times and I’ve actually seen the stage show too, about 20 years ago, and I confess that I like it rather than love it … but I loved the idea of a road-trip.
So, five of us piled on a train to Manchester on Monday morning: my two sisters-in-law, my nephew and a friend of one of the SILs. When we’d all said we’d go, there was a strong declaration that we wouldn’t be getting dressed up. Definitely not. Well, not fully. Maybe a token feather boa? But definitely not anything Rocky Horror-ish. But my nephew had other ideas. Being his favourite film, he was desperate to dress as “sweet transvestite” Frank. When I heard rumours of basques, wigs and heels, I knew that the bar had been set high. Very high.
And, therefore, somehow this happened….
The problem with dressing up is that, when you’re not exactly svelte, it’s very hard to get ready-made costumes. And, with my figure, there was no way I was going to squeeze myself into a basque and suspenders, even if I could have found one to fit. I decided to make my own costume. One of the characters, Magenta, wears a French maid’s uniform. I had a plain black skater dress and decided to sew lace round the bottom and round the sleeves and make a net skirt to go underneath it. I ordered an apron and hair-piece from Ebay and picked up a wig from a joke shop in town.
Then I ran out of time. We were getting a train first-thing on Monday morning and I spent the duration of Dancing on Ice and Vera on Sunday night trying to sew lace onto my dress and create the net underskirt. I was gutted to discover I didn’t have enough lace to go round the sleeves so that scuppered that idea.
Next, I painstakingly hand-sewed the net to a petticoat (so it wouldn’t irritate me). I’d made sure that I didn’t sew onto the elasticated waistband but I didn’t think about the fact that the petticoat itself was elasticated. When I pulled it on, I heard that sickening crack of threads snapping. Eek! I just had to hope that enough of it would stay intact or I’d be trailing several metres of bright pink net behind me like some sort of crazed bride!
So why do I like Rocky Horror rather than love it? There are many parts I do love. I love all the crazy, flamboyant, campness of it. I love the premise. I love so many of the songs. I think Richard O’Brien’s imagination is incredible. But, near the end, I personally feel it loses its way and … sorry … I think it gets a bit boring. I’m sure there will be fans (my nephew included) shouting “Nooooo!!!!!” at this but, for me, it loses the momentum. If we divide it into the two Acts of the theatrical production, the first Act is superb: innocent Janet and Brad are leaving a wedding, he proposes, they (perhaps slightly randomly but we go with it) decide to tell their old science teacher their news, get a flat tyre on the way and walk back to a mansion they’d passed to seek help. It’s all fast-paced, gives us a great sense of the two protagonists, and thrusts them into impending danger. They then meet the residents of the house, dance The Time-Warp, witness the ‘birth’ of Frank’s creation, Rocky, meet biker Eddie. Going into the start of Act 2, Brad/Janet lose their innocence. It’s still all very fast-paced, with great songs, excitement, humour and, if you’re new to it, plenty of surprises.
Then, partway through the second Act, it gets a little dull. The songs aren’t as memorable, the science teacher appears, we discover the residents of the house are aliens, and three key characters get shot. As a writer, I find myself comparing this to a book and thinking that this is that occasion where you read a book that you’re loving, then it really slows down, and you think it could have just done with one more edit to make it fantastic all the way through.
Anyway, the pace picks up again with a finale and another dance to The Time-Warp and all is forgiven for that slow moment. I’m sure many love it all but this is just my opinion.
We were treated to a fabulous cast including former Strictly pro-winner Joanne Clifton as Janet, Ben Adams from 90s boyband A1 as Brad. Apparently Duncan James of Blue has been playing Frank in half the productions but not the Manchester ones which was a shame as I’d love to have seen him in the role. Our Frank was superb, though, so we certainly didn’t lose out. I wasn’t quite so enamoured with Corrie’s Liz McDonald (Beverley Callard) as the Narrator. She seemed uncomfortable in the role, bless her. But, let’s face it, it was hard enough getting dressed up to be in the audience. How nerve-wracking must it be to be on stage, knowing that the finale involves your trousers being ripped off to reveal stockings and suspenders? Respect to her.
So it’s goodbye from me and my feather duster. And I bet you’re now singing about jumps to the left and steps to the right in your head. Sorry!