Tim Hughes enjoys a blast from the past as the ever popular Rocky Horror Show is staged in outrageous style

They arrived in stockings, suspenders and lacy basques – and that was just the guys. Trotting down George Street they flocked, in sparkly skirts, pink PVC dresses and outlandish wigs. These are the creatures of the night – the Rocky Horror Show faithful.

No other stage show has the cult following of Richard O’Brien’s classic horror spoof. Since its debut in 1973 it has been filling houses with devotees, of all sexes – dolled up in their finest lingerie – and calling out set pieces responses to a script so clunky and laden with horror genre cliches, you can hear it coming all the way from Transylvania.

To the uninitiated it must all have seemed very bizarre indeed; like being admitted to some debauched secret society where everyone else is in on the joke. But that makes it all the more fun.

The story starts, in a nod to Dracula, with an unsuspecting clean-cut pair of American kids – Brad (a perfectly geeky Richard Meek) and Janet (a sweet Sophie Linder-Lee) arriving at a spooky castle after their car breaks down in a storm.

There they find themselves sucked into the twisted world of the louche Frank-N-Furter – played here by a sleek, athletic Liam Tamne, who masterfully channels the lewd and rakish charm of the original inhabitor of the role, Tim Curry.

To say any more would be to spoil a plot which has all the subtlety of a chainsaw. Suffice to say, if you are easily-offended, you will find it a challenging watch.

Remarkably the show hasn’t aged – perhaps because it is deliberately retro to begin. As well as Tamne’s outrageous towering performance as the “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania”, Strictly and Coronation Street’s Georgia May Foote was delicious as the perky Columbia and Kay Murphy a steamily lascivious Magenta. Dominic Andersen’s ridiculously muscular Rocky also raised temperatures – particularly among the group of women who were sat behind me (they weren't sat for long, it has to be said).

Surprises came in the shape of a pair of blasts from the past. Former S Club 7 singer Paul Cattermole, now unrecognisable from the teen heartthrob of old, rocked out as Frank-N-Furter's zombie-like Eddie and as the wheelchair-bound Dr Scott. The role of the narrator was occupied by another half-forgotten face, Norman Pace of Hale and Pace fame ('We are the management' – remember?). He gave as good as he got when the jibes started flying.

(On Friday the role will be shared with the Oxford Mail's own Marc West – so get you best heckles ready!).

Full marks to the New Theatre for having the verve to stage this risqué show over Christmas. It is as far from the schmaltzy festive fare dominating the schedules everywhere else.

It is certainly not a family show (any parent would be left squirming – when not shielding innocent eyes). But then there’s enough wholesome stuff out there already. We deserve something a little naughty at this time of year – and they don’t come any naughtier than this – the antidote to fairytale pantos.


* The Rocky Horror show continues at the New Theatre Oxford until Saturday and then runs from December 27 to December 31