Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cut to the Chase at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch
16 May 2011

We were searched as we entered the foyer. Looking for rice and loo rolls, no doubt. But they need not have worried, these Rocky Horror fans were impeccably behaved, though there were fishnets a-plenty, nerdy specs and one group with white coats and green surgical gowns. But no lighters were waved, no water pistols discharged. The stage remained clear of confetti and KitKats.

Hard to imagine now, how radically outrageous Richard O'Brien's show seemed in the seventies. These days the alternative has become mainstream, the edgy has become middle of the road. It's no longer inappropriate to ask an American high school girl about her tattoos.

So this big blast of a production was more like a familiar pantomime, with everyone waiting for their favourite routine. But it is the kind of show that the multi-tasking Cut to the Chase do best: great to see Riff Raff [Tom Jude] brandish his electric fiddle, and Brad and Janet [Mark Stanford and Sarah Scowen] on sax and trumpet. Julian Littman, the MD, also sat in the Orson Welles chair to do the narration. And Natasha Moore, in one of the best costumes, did a lovely star-spangled tap dance in the Time Warp.

All the other Hornchurch regulars slipped effortlessly into the basques, giving high-octane performances for these OTT characters. Particularly impressive were the barely recognisable Elliot Harper's toned blond Rocky, and Simon Jessop's double of the doomed biker Eddie and the mad Nazi scientist Dr Scott. And Matthew Quinn managed to be camp, decadent and homely in a memorable incarnation of Frank N Furter, enhanced by the unique trick of playing his own guitar riffs for Sweet Transvestite.

Bob Carlton's production was a constant joy, from the opening titles to the Show Band finale. I loved the masked choirboys in the wedding scene, the rolling road and the steering wheel, and the leaning perspective and spread legs of Mark Walter's inspired set.

My only concern was that, should there be any Rocky Horror Show virgins in the audience, they would lose a lot of the witty lyrics behind the pounding decibels. Not a problem for the fans and the camp followers, of course, who were one step ahead most of the way. Though there was very little banter, at least on Press Night.
Only in the megamix encore did things really take off in the stalls, as the audience finally lost their inhibitions at around the same time Frank lost his wig …

production photos by Nobby Clark

this piece first appeared on The Public Reviews

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As one of the Rocky Horror Show virgins mentioned above I agree that the lyrics were often obscured and, from what I did hear, my enjoyment (which was great) would have been enhanced by being able to hear them properly.

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