The Rocky Horror Show review (QPAC, Brisbane)

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Nothing does it for me like tall guys in fishnet stockings (unless they’re Alexander Downer), so the return of Dr Frank-n-Furter to the Australian stage, almost forty years since he first landed down under, was enough to give this ageing heart more than just a thump.
Not that Craig McLachlan (Neighbours alumni and most recently star of The Doctor Blake Mysteries) has quite the same evil seductive powers of Reg Livermore in the original, but who could? And McLachlan makes the role his own with enough black leathers and suspenders (and was that a padded codpiece?) to have the full house screaming their heads off. Half the audience weren’t even born when the original production came to Australia in the 70s, but the other half were old fans, and the reception was as rapturous as at any rock concert.
For Rocky Horror is now a cult classic in its own right, as much as The Wizard of Oz, and you don’t have to be a Friend of Dorothy to delight in all the cross-dressing and sexual who-does-which-and-with-what-and-to-whom stuff (and I use the word advisedly). It seemed to me to be much less subtle in its sexual innuendo than it used to be, but I was very young when I first saw it, and the sodomy and oral sex references then probably went right over my head, if that’s not a back-to-front metaphor (or something very like). Certainly none of it was lost on this very savvy audience, who shrieked even louder than the four-piece band, who were high-decibel enough to make me block my ears even from Row U where we were seated because I had, perforce, muddled the dates and arrived for a preview instead of opening night. So there’s a disclaimer, and one reason I’m not going to quibble about a bit of over-miking, especially with the Usherette’s song, because I’m sure that will be tidied up before the official opening.
But the rest of it was pure pleasure. Everyone knows the plot, which is very silly and cartoonish, but it’s the design details and the brilliant 70s rock’n’roll music that make this show a sure-fire winner. The gormless Brad and Janet (Tim Maddren and Christie Whelan Browne), when reduced to saggy white Y-fronts and frilly white petticoat respectively, are the perfect fall guys, and Tony Farrell is a very classy Narrator. The sci-fi gadgets and the smoke-and-lightning effects are as crass as you could ask for, and the musical score is not just nostalgia at its best, but exquisitely played and sung.  The show is not full of memorable tunes, but the Time Warp song took me straight back to the 70s, and made much more sense in this current production, which is itself in a real time warp.
Beautifully dressed and well-cast (Brendan Irving as the literal golden boy Rocky is blessed with circus skills as well as a perfect physique), this show is a knock-out, and I’m sure the kinky underwear shops will soon be sold out of black lace-up corselets, as they were called in those days, and red suspenders, as this cult classic garners even more fans.
Some shows are definitely worth reviving, and this is one of them. Even if it’s more of a trip down memory lane than an immediate, modern musical, characters like Frank-n-Furter and Brad and Janet  have entered the lexicon of rock’n’roll immortals, and the corny plot, which tries to pretend that love is the best in this best of all possible worlds, especially alien ones, is perfect in its own right. Brad and Janet lose their respective virginities in a most delightful way, although it doesn’t shock them as much as it probably ought, and all the naughty aliens are sent back to where they should have stayed in the first place – although thank goodness, for our sakes, that they didn’t.
After almost forty years, though, some mysteries still remain unsolved.  Will the rain ever stop, will Brad and Janet finally get married, and will they ever get that flat tyre fixed?
[box]The Rocky Horror Show is at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC until 9 February before a national tour. More information and tickets are available at
Featured image by Jeff Busby[/box]

One response to “The Rocky Horror Show review (QPAC, Brisbane)

  1. Quote: “After almost forty years, though, some mysteries still remain unsolved. Will the rain ever stop, will Brad and Janet finally get married, and will they ever get that flat tyre fixed?”
    Umm…. Shock Treatment answers all of those and more…

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