October 23, 2010

Rocky Horror Show

The Rocky Horror Show is a cult classic about this woman named Janet...and this guy named Brad...whose car breaks down outside Dr. Frank 'N' Furter's castle, where sexual treats (and feats) of every flavor are on display. All the time. And they sing. A lot.

Other than that, I really couldn't tell you much about the plot. This morning found me on Wikipedia trying to locate the actual story of the show--some of the major plot elements got a bit muddled in the frenzy o' flesh and the ending made absolutely no sense (Deus ex machina, anyone?), until Wikipedia filled in the pieces for me. So that's who Frank was. I somehow missed that revelation (and more than a few others). Duh.

But this is a cult classic. And nobody goes to a cult classic to actually watch the show. Or think. They go to yell at the actors and dance in the aisles, sing along, throw stuff. Warehouse theatre even sells "audience participation" goodie bags and offers a free lesson in how to join in the actual script of the show (which the audience did, with great glee!) So don't worry about the story, as the narrator will tell you, it doesn't really mean anything anyway.

Just don't tell that to the actors, who've put in some riveting performances (I mean, it's rather impossible NOT to pay attention when 16 people are getting it on, but there were some gorgeous performances nevertheless).

My first shock of the evening was Matthew Merritt's Riff-Raff. While his posturing blended into the overall production, Meritt's vocals were absolutely shiver-inducing. I kept waiting for him to come back and sing just one more song, or part of a song? Please?

And Will Ragland as Frank 'N' Furter. Beautiful. Ragland is mesmerizing, both as a singer and as a performer. The man can strut, he can stroke a note up and down, and he can take the audience wherever he wants to go. And did I mention beautiful? I couldn't help but fall in love with Ragland's electric charisma.

I just wish the playwright had more fully developed Frank's powerhouse character and story. His glam-sex-rock-fest-castle is everywhere (all the time) loudly celebrated, but even this gleeful show couldn't help nodding to the costs of perpetual orgasm. Dr. Frank's bloody rage and his casual disregard for the happiness (or actual lives) of other people crept into the edges of the play and undermined the show's premise (and promise) of an unending free-for-all paradise. But because it was only a nod, a brief look in the meat locker, or a wink at one man's insatiability before we're off into another burlesque, it also undermined the show's ostensibly tragic ending.

Frank 'N' Furter has no tragic flaw--at least not according to the tenor of the show--and his downfall can only be blamed on intolerant, selfish beings, or maybe fate (in the form of an accepted world order), if you stretch for it. So party hard, screw everyone you meet (literally and figuratively) 'cause it's all gonna end (and it won't be your fault, 'cause you're a diva, darling, and nobody really wanted all those pesky limbs or fiances or hearts anyway). Oh, and P.S. there is no meaning in life.

Satisfying? Not really. At least not as a story--nor as a convincing argument for sexual liberation. But as a heaping dose of voyeuristic titillation with Master Frank? Perhaps I should have followed the instructions printed in my program: "If you've never had the Rocky experience, hold on to your seats (you might need to go buy another beer or glass of wine before we start.)" The instructions have obviously worked for others--the show sold out, was extended, and is now swathed in waiting lists for many of the extra performances.

Richard O'Brien's "The Rocky Horror Show."
Presented by Warehouse Theatre, 37 Augusta St., Greenville (864) 235-6948. Through October 31. Tickets $25. Students $15.

Posted by stephanie at October 23, 2010 12:34 PM | TrackBack