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This Rocky a real horror!

Roshan Sewpersad

The Rocky Horror Picture Show by Dimpho Di Kopane (aka The South African Academy of Performing Arts)

Spier Arts Summer Season

29 January to 28 February 2004

Ag shame. This remains my enduring reaction to Dimpho Di Kopane’s production of The Rocky Horror Show, which forms part of the Spier Arts Summer Season. Ag shame, because the entire experience was like being at a high school play – it was amateurish, with absolutely no glimmer of the camp, queer, sexy treatment that this cult rock musical deserves. Even the accomplished voices of the singers and swinging jazz accompanists could not salvage this lacklustre production.

I arrived at Spier with high expectations, anticipating a novel performance by the all-black operatic cast. The costumed waiters and entertainers mingling with the audience during pre-show drinks may even have been more engaging than the cast on stage, who did very little to encourage audience participation (or even acknowledge the antics of the few die-hard Rocky fans). Neither the usherettes nor the narrator, traditionally on the audience’s side of the stage, elicited much sympathy from me.

Frank ‘n’ Furter didn’t get my blood racing at all. (Queeny is not equal to camp, in my opinion.) Nor did Rocky, who should be reminded that aloofness is not equivalent to naiveté. Whatever happened to performing from the crotch? Opera singers should know where to draw their energy from!

The costumes were unexciting and matronly – not at all something you’d imagine a (pan)sexually driven alien race would wear! Cardinal sin was Furter’s low-heel Dorothy shoes, straight out of The Wizard of Oz, it seemed. Rather fit him in kinky thigh-high leathers if he hadn’t bothered practising mincing around the stage in stilettos.

The odd body shapes on stage added much needed quirkiness to the production. This should have been exploited by more striking choreography and pairings. In fact, the only couplings allowed on stage apart from Furter’s sex scene with Brad, were strictly male-female.

You wouldn’t be missing much if you gave this Rocky Horror a miss. Rather get the fabulous video with Tim Curry in the leading role. Perhaps the cast should have rented the video too.

LitNet: 20 Februarie 2004

boontoe / to the top

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