Let’s Do the Time Warp Again – Nostalgically
Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre, QPAC
Timeless, ageless and unforgettable – a raunchy trip back to the 70’s via the Rocky Horror Show now playing at Brisbane’s Lyric Theatre until February 9.
As a child growing up in the 70’s/80’s, the Rocky Horror (Picture) Show – an art-house stage show and film – influenced our generation. What child of my generation (and now following generations) could admit to never seeing the cult 1975 film starring Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon? Curry, playing a camp, devilish Frank n Furter in the celluloid version (after appearing in the inaugural London stage show in 1973) pushed the boundaries of what was decent and acceptable at the time.
The film, initially released in 1975 was a box office failure. But when it was re-released (with a few song edits and slight changes) at midnight in April 1976, the film became a cultish theatrical experience, with audiences turning up to the screenings of the movie in costume and character. Immersing themselves into the show shouting out lines and dancing in the aisles, the Rocky Horror phenomenon was born.
Whether it was at Rocky Horror themed parties indulging in re-creating your favourite character, or if it was singing along to the infamous songs, the show has taken on its very own cult status. The energetic music selection and diverse story has become iconic and legendary, incredibly 40 years after its debut. “Rocky Horror was the 70’s flip side of Jesus Christ Superstar, the devil incarnate in fishnet stockings,” said Valerie Lawson in June 1996, reviewing an Australian version of the stage show, which starred Marcus Graham, Wilbur Wilde and Red Symons.
Present day, Facebook announces screenings of the original 70’s movie,which attracts an underground cult following. Cards 4 Sorrow are a group of die hard fans who dress up in Rocky Horror inspired costume, lip syncing and performing on stage during the movie screening. http://www.kristianfletcher.com/rockyhorrornew.html
This is what Rocky Horror is all about – enthusiastic, energetic audience members who dig out the fishnets, suspenders, high heels and appropriate wigs dressing in character for the event. There are a few secret Magentas, Frank n Furters and Riff Raffs in the burbs of Brisbane. I discovered a trio of these enthusiasts at my recent Rocky Horror theatre experience.
Horse Trainers by day, this group of friends from country Samford, were at ease slipping into their alter egos and posing for pictures. I even heard our Magenta maid, at the end of the show as we made our way out, thanking people for coming! There’s something about donning a costume which creates a new persona, especially if its one of the gaudy, slightly out there aliens from the Rocky Horror Picture show.
This show in its 1973 stage debut and 1975 screen debut was considered risque and raunchy. With the passing of time, has the 2014 stage show pushed the envelope further? I don’t think so. It still may raise the hackles of a conservative audience member (not sure why they would be there,) but beyond that the formula has not radically altered from the original 70’s version. We’ve heard all the sexual jokes and innuendos before – but that did not stop Craig McLachlan from milking them as much as he so confidently can. As he turned up the fun volume, up went the audience’s enjoyment, giving McLachlan ammunition to go to town with purely hedonistic overtones.
McLachlan reprises the role he played 22 years ago on stage, (although Brisbane audiences missed him, due to his filming commitments.) With his footballer thighs on display, McLachlan confidently rocks the stage, kicking those legs with sassy ass wiggles, displaying confidence on three inch heels most females can only wish for.
Strutting his stuff, he commands the cast follows the fun he is having as Frank – humorous, cheeky, eccentrically butch and gay at the same time. How the actors taking on the Frank n Further character tend to playhim .
Richard O’Brien the enigmatic show’s creator at 71 was at the opening night in Brisbane and lead the cast in an encore of the Time Warp. “The audience knows its a non-sensical piece of fun,” says O’Brien. “You feel the level of excitement in the audience, they go wild if they see one person dressed as Frank and when the curtain goes up there is no holding them back.”
There are no guarantees an audience will rock the joint and embrace the evening – our crowd seemed more on the conservative side. Our three horse trainers agreed. They won tickets to the opening night dress rehearsal, “The audience that evening were really wild and got right into the atmosphere, almost everyone was in some sort of costume and dancing the Time Warp in the aisles. It was incredible. Tonight’s audience seems a little more sedate.”
Rocky Horror is a classic piece of theatre, a show filled with timeless songs that are crowd favourites. Our audience from the Baby Boomers down to the Gen Z’s, may not have been dancing in the aisles, but they were singing along.
The stand out performances of the evening (for me) were McLachlan romping the stage as Frank; Kristian Lavercombe playing a fabulously sinister Riff Raff (looking very reminiscent of his screen alter ego) and Erika Heynatz as his sister Magenta, convincing as a vampish, femme fatale.
McLachlan declares, at 48 there may not be many years left in his footballer sized pins to confidently strut the high heels and fishnets. Despite his uncertainty, I’m confident he will be doing it for many years to come. When his stage soiree is over, at after parties or social engagements, there will be numerous special requests to perform the I’m just a sweet Transvestite, from Transsexual, Transylvania aaaa ahhhaa.”