Adelaide Festival Theatre
Until 13 Jan 2018

Review by Maggie Wood

From the first ear-shattering, heart-stopping chords to the final bows, “The Rocky Horror Show” is one in which you are guaranteed not to take your eyes from the stage for one moment.

This 2018 production contains all of the elements to keep Rocky Horror diehards happy and also include those new to the experience. It stays true to the high-camp spirit of the show with elements of 1940s and 1950s B-movies, and a potent injection of glam rock for good measure.

The story tells of how straight-laced couple Brad and Janet are stuck on a country road due to a blown tyre, and in seeking help from a nearby castle, become the enforced guests of ‘sweet transvestite’ Dr Frank N. Furter and his crew.

Thereafter chaos abounds as Frank reveals the perfect musclebound man he has created – the Rocky of the title - to satisfy his own personal pleasures, all of which he then freely and comically shares with Brad and Janet.

Craig McLachlan is both perky and sardonic in his long-held role of Frank (he first played the character in 1992). Both his skills and his physique hold well in sporting fishnets and high heels, and keeping the portrayal fresh.

The show is carried on Frank’s shoulders and McLachlan makes it look effortless and fun, with the merest look askance or buttock wiggle bringing the house down. He loves it and the audience love him for it.

He has avoided an imitation of Tim Curry’s establishing performances in the original stage and film productions, and has made Frank his own, making it a benchmark performance.
Michelle Smitheram as Janet and Rob Mallett as Brad are perfect foils – seemingly straight but grabbing the comedic opportunities to expose their hidden kinks. Both actors particularly shine in their one-on-one scenes with McLachlan.

Frankie’s band of faithful followers – Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff, Amanda Harrison as Magenta (and doubling as the Usherette), and Adelaide girl Nadia Komazec as Columbia - keep the action going.

Brendan Irving as the muscular, tanned Rocky catches everyone’s eye and Adam Rennie doubles as Eddie and Dr Scott to deliver two distinctly different roles.

Cameron Daddo as The Narrator betrays his faux gravitas with obvious enjoyment of the thrust and parry with the audience, as various members interrupt his lines with their own.

The tight band led by Dave Skelton scoops you up and carries you along at a breakneck pace with its rock score, punctuated by a few ballads to catch a breath.

Christopher Luscombe’s direction and Nathan M Wright’s choreography make use of every space and movement. Hugh Durrant’s set design pays homage to the filmic version of the story while keeping the versatile set deceptively simple. Sue Blake’s costumes are luscious.

In a world where the barriers of prejudice are dropping faster than ever, it is easy to forget how avant garde Rocky Horror must have been when it first played.

Now, even Frank acknowledges the changed days, and we can all join in with the innocent dirty fun.

Rocky Horror wrote the script for this style of theatre and it would be a crime if you passed up a chance to ‘give yourself over to absolute pleasure’ by seeing this particular production.