Rocky Horror Show at The Kings Theatre: Legendary rock and roll musical arrives in Portsmouth - and has the audience in stitches | Review

There are some things in life that just don’t live up to the hype.
Rocky Horror Show was a pure delight from start to finish. Picture: David FreemanRocky Horror Show was a pure delight from start to finish. Picture: David Freeman
Rocky Horror Show was a pure delight from start to finish. Picture: David Freeman

Prime Energy, Shrek the Third, Ferrari’s Formula One team – the list of things that don’t live up to the excitement around them could be endless.

Having never seen the Rocky Horror Show, but being aware of the hype around the ongoing world tour, I was wondering just how much I would enjoy the show. But I’m pleased to report that it absolutely lived up to the hype, and then some.

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My wife and I were going in blind – neither of us had seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and aside from one of her work colleagues badgering to take my ticket, we had no idea just how beloved this show is. Upon parking up, it immediately became clear. There were corsets, maid outfits and latex in abundance in the audience, and there was a genuine sense of excitement building as we climbed the steps to our seats in the circle.

As the curtain was raised the crowd got up on their feet to dance to the Time Warp – and I quickly realised this was a show that would thrive on audience participation. From dancing along to songs to actually having a back and forth with the actors on stage, the more people in the audience who know the show, the better your experience will be.

That back and forth certainly caught me off-guard at first; when it initially happened I thought there was a heckler in the audience, but it soon became apparent that this is a standard affair for this show, and absolutely part of its charm and appeal. The cast seem to relish in it too, practically offering openings for the audience to interject, without doing it as obviously as a pantomime would.

For those like me who know very little about the story, the premise is that two naive college kids – Brad (Richard Meek) and Janet (Haley Flaherty) – end up in a creepy mansion after their car breaks down – where they meet Dr Frank’n’Furter (Stephen Webb). Webb steals absolutely every scene he appears in, oozing charisma and bouncing off the other actors with ease.

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The jokes and double entendres landed every single time, and some of the jokes (particularly one at the expense of home secretary Suella Braverman) had the entire audience in stitches. This can be chalked up to the excellent comedic timing of the cast, who nailed the musical numbers too. Meek and Flaherty’s voices in particular compliment one another brilliantly, and numbers like Damn it Janet were among my favourites in the show.

A special mention must also go to narrator Philip Franks, who had some excellent improv moments with members of the audience.

Those with a prude disposition might not enjoy the fun and frolics of the show, but everyone else experienced a memorable, fun-filled evening.

The Rocky Horror Show is at The Kings Theatre until Saturday, July 29 – click here to purchase tickets.