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THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (article first published : 2004-05-28)

Just opened at the Barnyard Theatre at Gateway for a return season (last here in 2002), is Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show which was first performed at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 1972. For the vigorous and energetic Barnyard version, Ian von Memerty has restaged and directed Christopher Malcolm’s original production.

Rocky Horror now has its own cult following so there is safety in the tried formula and devotees delighted in providing the expected responses on cue. Last night, audience members dressed for the occasion and no doubt this will be the case during the run.

I have long been impressed by Paul du Toit’s capacity as a musical theatre performer. He has a compelling voice which always moves me and this was heard to best effect in I’m Going Home. He is certainly one of the best Frank N Furter’s I have seen although I did think his prancing would have been more suited to Equus than Rocky Horror. I heartily congratulate him for his masterly control of the circular steel staircase!

Despite the fact that he was battling with a mouth ulcer problem, David Sherwood managed to present his usual impeccable performance as the narrator – deliciously caustic and with a mischievous sense of fun. Assistant director Bronwyn Evans is an adorable powerhouse package and she has made the role of the squeaky, feisty Columbia her own. She will appear in the show until May 30 when Clare Cassidy takes over for the rest of the run.

Jason Ralph was nicely unctuous and disturbing as Riff Raff and Ryan Laatz brought a refreshingly naiive aspect to Rocky, floppy hair, gold scants, boots and all! David Chevers and Kerry Hiles gave strong and consistent performances throughout the show as the hapless Brad and Janet who are taken in by Frank N Furter’s extremely sensual and decadent existence. They received good support from Tessa Denton as the buxom Magenta, Frantz Dobrowsky as the machiavellian Dr Scott and Matthew Wilkinson as Eddie.

The phantoms are played by Clare Cassidy, Claire Rowlett, Dean Roberts and Clifford Hughes.

When I reviewed this production in 2002 (see review in Supper Theatre archives) I said that I had a big problem with the sound. I admit that this evening’s performance was much improved but it is still difficult to hear the lyrics over the backing track. This is not a fault of the performers because in straight speech their diction is perfectly audible. Things seem to go wrong in the sound mix. But, as I said in the same review, no doubt “Rocky Horror aficionados won’t be bothered too much by sound system shortcomings.”

I enjoyed Margo Fleisch’s costumes, produced by Durban’s Andrew Verster and Shan Naidoo. Stan Knight’s lighting is as clean and focused as ever. I did feel that there was a slight hiatus moving into the set for Brad and Janet’s last scene. This could as easily have been played next to the staircase thus allowing the build up to the finale to progress more smoothly.

You can take your own picnic to Barnyard, although no alcohol is allowed into the venue as there is a cash bar. Our hamper from Picnic Fanatics included such tasty items as Sweet Transvestite Peppers, Hot Patootie Pitas, Planet Schmanet Shicken, Time Warped Veggies, Frank ‘n Furter Place Duo and Don’t Dream It Chocolate Mousse. (Contact 031 701 0036 or e-mail: picnicfanatics@iafrica.com)

Tickets R90 (Buy One Get One Free on Tuesday and Sunday). For bookings and enquiries, phone 031 566 3045 or e-mail gateway@barnyardtheatre.co.za




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