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Borders by Henry Naylor: An Intensely Compelling Look From Two Sides Of War – Adelaide Fringe Review
Festival Theatre, Sun 31 Dec.
Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show has well and truly arrived as Adelaide audiences delighted in doing the Time Warp once again this New Year’s Eve. Patrons were buzzing as they took seats adorned with red feather boas, helping to set the scene for a deliciously decadent evening.
For those living on another planet, The Rocky Horror Show is O’Brien’s nod to the terrifically trashy sci-fi films of the past, and follows the adventures of sickeningly sweet couple, Brad and Janet, as they make their way to tutor/friend Dr Scott’s house to announce their engagement. Car trouble (of course) sees them alight at the mansion of alien transvestite Frank N Furter, just as the good doctor is about to unleash his most recent creation in the form of Rocky, a most perfect specimen of pure golden maleness. What follows is a ripping musical ride as the couple negotiate the freak show that surrounds Frank and his assortment of mad servants and hanger-ons.
As the degenerate scientist, Craig McLachlan was met with riotous applause as he appeared on stage shrouded in a giant cloak, teasing the audience with a smirk and a show of fish netted leg that aptly demonstrated why he is such a favourite in this role. He hammed his way through the show, often stopping to respond to audience callbacks in the tradition of this cult-classic theatre experience. McLachlan is almost flawless in his mastery of comic timing and ability to milk a moment for all its worth. His strong vocals made good work of classic number, Sweet Transvestite and gave voice to a Frank that belonged to him alone.
As Brad and Janet, Rob Mallett and Michelle Smitheram worked beautifully together as we watched the wonderfully nerdy couple negotiate a slippery slope of pleasured debauchery, learning much about themselves and each other along the way. Both were able to deliver Damn It, Janet! and Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me with great effect and were a joy to watch in the ‘bed scenes’ with McLachlan’s Frank again camping it up for maximum hilarity.
As loyal (?) servant Riff-Raff, Kristian Lavercome was equal parts creepy and comical, always commanding attention when onstage. In the roles of Magenta/Usherette, Amanda Harrison was vocally strong but it was Nadia Komazec as Columbia that really shone, particularly when required to leave all dignity at the door and do things to Frank N Furter’s leg that can’t be repeated here.
Cameron Daddo received a wonderful response from the crowd as he appeared as the Narrator, and like McLachlan was able to beautifully interact with those audience callbacks that really make this show. Adam Rennie was a welcome presence in the multiple roles of Eddie and Dr Scott, able to negotiate two very different characters with ease. As Rocky, Brendan Irving played the naïve but buff young creation well although sometimes it was difficult to follow his lyrics. This may also be in part due to less than perfect sound staging that seemed to slightly overpower the singing at times.
Staging was superb, a curved series of flats that revolved to move from laboratory to entrance hall and back again. A ‘film strip’ along the top allowed glimpses of the band suspended through the frames with wonderful lighting the force that bound both music and set together in the most imaginative way.
A thunderous standing ovation met a clearly elated cast as Adelaide prepared to usher in another New Year to the Time Warp (Reprise). In a world where we have recently been forced to publicly judge one another’s orientations, The Rocky Horror Show remains a timely reminder that fun, frivolity and sexual freedom are all wonderful things.
Rosie van Heerde
Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show continues at Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, at various times until Sat 13 Jan.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.