The UC Follies’ latest production, The Rocky Horror Show, closed last Saturday night to a packed and enthusiastic crowd in Victoria College’s chapel. Only running for three nights, artistic director, and Dr. Frank N. Furter for the night, Shak Haq writes that “as an actor it is by far one of the most enjoyable productions in which to partake.” The casts sheer fun at staging this daring (well, the original back in 1973 was, anyway) shock-rock musical kept the energy high, even when some technical drawbacks of the venue took away from some of the enjoyment.
The story is well known by now and judging by the degree of audience participation, most have seen this play, or the spin-off cult classic movie, before. For those who haven’t: “slut” Janet and “asshole” Brad, newly engaged and really boring and tame, seek refuge in a creepy castle after their car breaks down in the rain. Looking for a telephone to make a call (this is in those dark times of no mobiles), instead they find the transsexual alien doctor Dr. Furter and his/(her?) crew of sexually uninhibited and wacky followers. In the course of their slightly disturbing stay, Janet and Brad join the dark side and find out that sex is way more fun than remaining “pure.” They also bear witness to the awakening of Dr. Furters creation, an all-muscles pretty boy. But there is a dark secret concerning someone named Eddie — every time that name comes up everyone, including the audience, goes “shhh” — and it becomes clear that Dr Furter is kind of a maniac.
Although the Victoria chapel, with its painted windows in the background, is a great setting for the play, it became clear that its layout and acoustics are less than ideal for a theatrical production. Unless seated in the front row (which I wasn’t) it was impossible to see everything on stage, especially during one scene that mainly took place on the floor. And despite the microphones it was hard to catch what the cast was saying, as the high-rising chapel structure muddled the words. Further, there was so much audience heckling that the dialogue often got lost in some insult. Nonetheless, this degree of audience participation kept the energy high and some of the actor’s reactions spoke to their improv talent. Of course, the songs are much more important anyway. These were delivered with varying talent. Absolutely outstanding was Colin Asuncion as Riff Raff, whose voice as well as dance performances took his numbers to another level of professionalism. Also a treat to watch was Lauren Goodman in her double role as the narrator and Dr. Scott, the latter of whom she infused with a hilarious German accent. As the narrator her dry, detached delivery well countered the mayhem of the rest of the cast and often served as comic relief.
For people seeing The Rocky Horror Show for the first time, Saturday’s production wouldn’t have been the best introduction, as the storyline often got drowned out by audience yelling and bad acoustics. But with the explosion of colour in the costumes — picture ‘80s inspired, rock-infused American Apparel guys and gals — the classic songs, dance performances, and the raunchy banter on both sides of the stage, the Follies re-enacted a daring play with much charm.