Review: Rocky Horror Show at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

As the floor of the dress circle bows underneath the enthusiastic Timewarping going on around me, a man in one of the Boxes bops away in only a pair of gold hot-pants, and Duncan James parades around the stage in a red velvet corset, it occurs to me that I had no idea what to expect at the opening night of the Rocky Horror Show at The Mayflower Theatre – and even in my wildest dreams I hadn’t expected this!

Rocky Horror 2019 review
Press image

So I may seemingly be one of the few people who had never seen the Rocky Horror Show – either the 1975 movie or the stage show – and all I knew was that people often dressed up in the outfits worn by the cast.  It really did put a smile on my face to enter the bar next door to the theatre and see so many people who had absolutely pulled out the stops for the show (I can’t remember another occasion when I’ve queued at the bar behind so many men in stockings and high heels, or blood-spattered scrubs and lab coats…).

Rocky Horror Show 2019

I was with a friend who was also not familiar with the show and so we sat perched literally on the edge of our seats as the lights dimmed and the music boomed out.  If you, like me, aren’t familiar with the plot, it features the clean-cut couple Janet and Brad (played by Joanne Clifton and Ben Adams), whose car breaks down on the way home from a wedding, and they find themselves knocking on the door of the creepy mansion inhabited by Transylvanian transvestite Frank N Furter.  Frank is played by Duncan James (of Blue fame) and he was utterly incredible.  From start to finish, the show was a total riot, filled with innuendo and risqué humour, the cult songs and glittering dance routines.  I had no idea that the show includes ‘callbacks’ – audience participation moments where they will ‘shout’ lines between the cast and narrator’s script to add an extra depth to the humour! (We were in stitches at some of the ‘heckling’, including several very funny quips to Dom Joly, who, decked in a fetching purple blazer, delivered the narration for the show).

We couldn’t get over the incredible casting of Duncan James as Frank – even without knowing the show it seemed he was born for the role and I now couldn’t imagine anyone else playing it.  Callum Evans was also brilliant as Rocky – his incredible gymnastics around the stage encouraged a lot of cheering! Another absolute highlight of the show were the band.  The music was just utterly brilliant – having only been to the theatre a handful of times I’ve just never witnessed how the music and vocals can create such an electrifying atmosphere.  The standing ovation at the end (and the roar of the crowd as the cast took their final bows) really said it all – it might have been my first time seeing this show but I hope it isn’t my last!

The Rocky Horror Show is on until April 13th at The Mayflower.  I attended the press night.