The Rocky Horror Picture Show 2018
A Conversation between a Rocky Virgin and Veteran
Our Editor-in-Chief, Emma Galligani (the Veteran), and Lily Ratcliff (the Virgin), from our Graphics Team, had the pleasure of attending this year’s Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Byre Theatre on October 17th. They sat down to have a conversation about the show, discussing it from their different perspectives. Read on to find out what they both thought of the weirdest show there is.
Emma: Ok first things first, what were you expecting, even before entering the Byre?
Lily: I was expecting to see people slightly dressed up — in that they might be a bit more risqué but when I got there I learned that wasn’t the case and people had full on gone for it: fishnets, corsets, suspenders — you name it — people had it on (or off).
E: Yeah, cause I remember you being a bit nervous about us being the only ones dressed kind of sluttier than usual. Did you expect so many people to come in the actual character costumes?
L: No, and maybe I expected a few downplayed Frank N Furters, but actually there were people whose costumes really matched the stage/film actors – particularly the two guys who went as Janet and Brad.
E: Yeah, I mean I felt underdressed!
L: Yeah, we thought red and black and knee high boots would be enough — it clearly wasn’t.
E: So you were a virgin — a Rocky virgin — before this show, and you hadn’t seen the movie either.
L: Yeah, I had only seen two scenes, the Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite, so I really didn’t know what the storyline was — what to expect — and also how much people love this film and the culture around it. And I suppose that’s why you keep going back.
E: It basically gets better every time you go, there’s always something new at every show — whether that’s the audience, or just the show itself, I’m always surprised by things. I did find it quite funny how they throw you in right from the start.
L: Yeah I wasn’t expecting to be labelled with a massive red V on my forehead (for virgin) right as I walked in — so I didn’t really know what was happening.
E: I thought it was so interesting to see the combination of people who did and didn’t have Vs on their foreheads, like it seemed really balanced, which made it even more fun.
L: Yeah, I agree. And even though the veterans knew what they were in for there was still a sense of excitement among them. And the sacrifice of the virgins during the pre-show – I think everyone really enjoyed that.
E: I thought the pre-show was a great addition! They kind of did a costume competition last year, but from my memory it wasn’t as energetic, and I think that comes down to the show’s director, Beatrice (Morgan), who came on to host the pre-show and basically just became a ‘Rocky’ character herself!
L: She was almost dominatrix-y — like she had everyone’s full attention, and put across her authority, in the best way possible.
E: She was full of sass, I loved it!
L: She also just created a great tone for the whole event.
E: Yeah the energy was high right from the pre-show. And it carried out well throughout the whole thing.
L: Even throughout the technical issues at the start. The cast and crew still seemed in control and you were able to see past it, everyone just rolled with it and had a good time.
E: Yeah — the audience kept woo-ing throughout. And then one of the dancers holding the ‘prepare your rice’ placard was just working it and posing — at the audience’s request. They handled it really well, and I don’t think it detracted from the show at all.
L: No, not at all. In all fairness I had no clue what to expect so it could’ve been part of the show, for all I knew.
E: I think my favourite thing about the show this year was the casting. It was pretty much perfect.
L: From having never seen it before, and having that first experience with the film, I thought it linked really well. So for someone being a ‘super-fan’, it must’ve been really impressive to have them that well connected. If anything I was lucky to see it with such a good cast as my first time.
E: Yeah — I think they did a good job last year but it was missing something and I think that was down to, not only the size of the cast, which they increased this year, but just how well the actors portrayed their characters. Dr Frank N Furter (Max Bramley) was perfect.
L: I agree, having Sweet Transvestite being one of the only scenes I’d seen in the film, I had quite a strong idea of what I thought Frank N Furter would be, and he lived up to it so well.
E: Exactly. You can’t put up the Rocky Horror Picture Show without a stand-out Frank N Furter. Also meeting the Tim Curry expectations is such a hard feat. Like — what’s so interesting about his character is that he combines queerness with seductiveness.
L: Yeah I mean he’s the ultimate seducer and Max pulled that combination off.
E: I think that’s what was missing last year. There wasn’t that element of sexuality in the way there was this year.
L: I think the show breaks down that notion of ‘normality’ by creating this character who everyone in one way or another finds attractive – and he’s aware of it!
E: As a virgin, how did you find the combination of seeing and hearing the film and also having the cast in front re-enacting it all?
L: With Rocky Horror being such a ‘cult’ phenomenon, the film really has made it into more than just a musical. So I feel like it has to always be included and have the format it does.
E: Exactly, if the actors were singing and speaking (and I’m sure there’s plenty of talent in St Andrews) I don’t think that a. the audience would participate as much and b. they would get into it the way that they do. And the voices from the movie are so iconic. It’s also kind of like putting on a mask and just being able to fully throw yourself into it without having to worry about things like the music or your voice etc.
L: It almost reminds me of when you’re drunk with your friends and you’re mucking around and have fewer inhibitions.
E: Yeah and you’re screaming songs at the top of your lungs and dancing like crazy and you don’t give a shit about how you sound.
E: So what did you think of audience participation overall? Cause obviously that’s what makes this show so unique.
L: Knowing that last year they had a screen prompting the call-outs, I think that might have been more beneficial. Just because there were so many times that I had no clue what to say, and I think other people had that experience too.
E: Yeah I noticed that there were a couple of voices in the audience that knew a lot of the call-outs and everyone else mainly knew ‘Slut’ and ‘Asshole’. I was talking to Beatrice and she said that they didn’t want the screen this year because Rocky call-outs came about quite organically in the first place. Like they build up throughout the years from what the audience interjects and it’s never quite the same. My mom came to the show with me last year and she’d been used to seeing Rocky Horror in the 80s in NYC, so even her call-outs were different to the ones up on the screen. But I agree, I think some more standard call-outs could have been indicated throughout.
L: Yeah I just think, if anything, it might have made people who had never been feel a little less involved overall and I think the whole point of the show is to make people feel thrown into that world. That said, having you, the guy dressed as Janet and the ‘hen party’ at the front — to hear their interactions made you forget about the call-outs and just made it a part of the show.
E: I think that’s kind of what they wanted. Like they didn’t want people reading off a screen the whole time and not actually fully feeling and immersing themselves in the show. And I think people did still participate — people kept laughing at the call-outs that were said and cheering throughout the whole show. And also I think not knowing the call-outs is kind of funny, because you’re never expecting them.
L: Yeah like when you called out ‘Where do you masturbate’ to the narrator, and the following line was ‘In an empty house’ I was so caught off guard and me (and the whole audience) just burst out laughing.
E: What about the production overall, you know just as a show, what did you think of costumes, makeup, set?
L: One of my favourite things was definitely the makeup and hair — everyone looked so much like the characters. Like Frank N Furter’s makeup was pretty much perfect. The glitter on Rocky (Matthew Lansdell) was great. And Janet (Lily Neary) and Brad (Austin Jupe) literally looked like the original actors.
E: Yeah, Rocky was a pleasant surprise. Cause I’d been last year, and I might be wrong but I feel like I remember them painting on his abs. Which added a sort of comical effect to it, but again, that sexual element and ‘sexual tension’ got lost a little bit. Whereas this year, Matthew’s combination of a ‘built’ physique and lost puppy-eyes worked perfectly for his character.
L: Yeah, sexual tension was definitely rife throughout the whole show and the actors didn’t shy away from it!
E: They got into the sex scenes this year! And they used the set really well to do the scenes with Janet/Frank/Brad/Frank.
L: They used that set piece, Rocky’s ‘birth incubator’, to their advantage, but also it was clever staging. It wasn’t too much that it detracted from the movie or too little that the stage felt empty, it just fit very well together.
E: Yeah I was really impressed by the size of the cast, the choreography — the staging was extremely smooth. And the fact that they used the entire space too, you just felt like you were in the show and in that world — which I think is the point.
E: And what about the storyline? What were you expecting and was it a pleasant surprise?
L: To be honest, I was expecting more of a storyline I could make sense of — but that’s probably what everyone loves about the show, is that it doesn’t really make sense, it is bonkers. And that’s what’s now got me hooked.
E: It is crazy. And everyone just goes crazy with the show. The energy just keeps rising throughout — you know with the actors running around you and toast and rice being thrown into your hair, you just have to accept that you’re now a part of that craziness.
L: You don’t want to leave that behind after seeing it. The songs have literally been in my head for days and I suppose it’s why people keep going back and back and back.
E: I was on such a high after the performance. I think people get kind of addicted to that feeling of embracing weirdness and queerness and that’s why Rocky Horror is so amazing. I’m really looking forward to the burlesque-style event they’re putting on at the Rule on the 30th. It’ll be nice to re-live a part of the show once more.
L: Definitely. Having seen Rocky once, I just want to keep going back now. And if this show is anything to go by, then I’m sure subsequent events/shows will be equally as fun.
E: Me too! And looking at the improvement between last year and this year, I’m sure next year’s show will be spectacular as well.
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