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Inverness audience at Eden Court rewards the delayed opening night of The Rocky Horror Show starring Ore Oduba with the biggest cheers

By Margaret Chrystall

REVIEW: The Rocky Horror Show

Eden Court, Inverness

5 stars

There are a thousand reasons why THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW just gets better with age – and most of them start with the show’s creator Richard O’Brien.

The cast of The Rocky Horror Show at Eden Court till Saturday. Picture: David Freeman
The cast of The Rocky Horror Show at Eden Court till Saturday. Picture: David Freeman

If you time warp yourself back to 1973 when the production first hit the stage, it put everything from the joy of sex to a "sweet transvestite” into the spotlight, which probably seemed deliciously risqué then. Now, the show’s liberal attitude, inclusiveness and celebration of difference just make it seem years ahead of its time.

But in the production that opened at Eden Court on Wednesday night, delayed from Monday, it takes all the other gifts O’Brien gave it and has an absolute ball with them.

Irresistibly catchy tunes and witty lyrics are present in almost every song – Dammit Janet, Over At The Frankenstein Place, Sweet Transvestite, Hot Patootie, Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me, Rose Tint My World, Don’t Dream It Be It, among them.

It was the notes of the show’s very own action song the Time Warp that we could hear powering out of the band sitting on an upper level above the stage before the pink curtain was pushed back by the Usherette (Suzie McAdam) to reveal the stage.

First, her own song introduced the film theme that gives the Rocky Horror its heart in Science Fiction Double Feature, with the lyrics listing sci-fi and horror classics – and adding in the names of Brad and Janet.

Soon we meet them (Haley Flaherty and Ore Oduba) in their flimsy prop car, newly-engaged, innocent and in the tradition of your regular Dracula film, forced to seek refuge at the doors of a dark, forbidding castle.

Once inside, it’s not just their minds that are going to be blown by its owner, the lusty cross-dressing mad scientist Frank-N-Furter (Scott Webb). Their inhibitions will disappear forever too – and the need to expose their wild side in corsets, stockings and suspenders will not be denied.

Along the way there’s the creation of the Frankenstein monster-esque Rocky Horror (Ben Westhead), the grisly death of tragic rock n roller Eddie (Joe Allen), the discovery of aliens in surprising places – and a chance for Brad and Janet to survive the experience ready to fulfill each other’s physical needs!

A scene from this Rocky Horror Show production. Picture: David Freeman
A scene from this Rocky Horror Show production. Picture: David Freeman

It’s an incredibly high-energy show – no wonder in the second programme with glossy pages and lots of pictures (£4 more than the regular £3 one, if you want to know), Scott Webb – who is a magnificent Frank-N-Furter in the outrageously high-heeled footsteps of the original Tim Curry – reveals in his QnA there that after the Covid break his priority was getting his stamina up again.

In a way the whole show rises or falls on the power of that performance, and Webb – who returns to the role after an initial stint in 2018 – thrills us, chills us and fulfills the biggest dreams for a brilliant Frank-n-Furter with a monstrously great voice and a shedload of charisma.

Given top billing, guest star Ore Oduba brings just the right nerdy vulnerability to the initially straitlaced Brad Majors, worrying away at the buttons of his jacket in fearful moments, hilariously wide-eyed when Frank-n-Furter is giving him a seeing-to under the bulging covers of the upright bed that takes centre stage at the start of Act Two. His lovely voice might be a surprise for most, and it soars in his solo spot with Once In A While as he makes the most of the sad ballad’s country twang.

Though every part has been cast with obvious care, a special mention must go to Laura Ingram as Frank-n-Furter’s neglected girlfriend. We got astounding, operatic top notes in one special moment, but it was her loopy, crazed ‘under the influence’ physical clowning at the end of the floor show and best number in the show, Eddy’s Teddy, that was virtuoso stuff.

“It’s not easy having a good time …” is Frank-n-Furter’s dry response to the spectacle.

And he’s right.

So thank goodness the audience – very much an extra character in this show – really made the effort on opening night. In tradition, people shouted out mostly unprintable ad libs to the Narrator (Philip Franks), whose story made the effort to include references, panto-style, to Boris Johnson, Nessie and Prince Andrew which were greeted with huge cheers from an exceptionally switched-on crowd, many of whom had dressed up as Rocky Horror characters for the night.

Sometimes Inverness audiences earn a reputation as a slightly introverted, slow-to-react crowd. They must all have stayed at home on Wednesday night…

After a full standing ovation and the auditorium moving as one with the actions of the Time Warp reprise, this crowd gave the biggest cheers I have heard in the theatre to deservedly celebrate this slick and life-affirming production.

The Rocky Horror Show is at Eden Court until Saturday. Info: eden-court.co.uk

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