Showing up drunk to review a play isn’t exactly in line with the News’ protocol, but if any show benefits from viewer intoxication, it’s “Rocky Horror.” After three semesters of sober theater reviews, two rescheduled phone calls from assistant directors and three-quarters of a power hour I arrived rather guiltily and tipsily at the OBT just in time to witness cast members down the last beers from the backstage fridge. If anything, my buzz was insufficient in comparison to the intoxication levels of future viewers — “Rocky’s” narrator O’Hagan Blades ’10 concluded her second-act improv monologue with “the audience needs to be way more drunk.”
Those who choose to attend Rocky this weekend sober or, more significantly, without prior familiarity with the show, should be warned: The plot is bizarre, the characters strange and there are some parts that just make no sense. Even after seeing the movie and several other reenactments, I couldn’t tell you how the protagonists get transformed to and from statues in the second act or who exactly Eddie is (though I do know the chick who plays him — Kathleen Knighton ’09 — and she rocks her one-song performance). “Rocky” is best approached with a sense of humor, an openness to the very strange and a hip flask.
One entirely unambiguous aspect of the performance is the emphasis on sex. I therefore add to my list of recommendations that you attend the event with someone in mind to make out with later. Even better, bring them to the show — two hours of watching girls in garters with stuffed crotches grope each other is pretty much a guaranteed bonding experience/turn-on. Almost every musical number is stocked with ass-dropping dance moves and pelvic thrusts, but the opening strip tease by Rachel Cohen ’09 is especially explicit — don’t come late or you’ll miss all the good stuff we couldn’t take pictures of.
Recommendations and explanations aside, “Rocky” is a great experience. The cast embraces the wacky show with (slightly drunken) enthusiasm and invites the audience along, whether by screaming the cult responses with the planted viewers or getting up to do the “Time Warp” again. The script is darkly hilarious and the music catchy — consistently strong vocal and instrumental performances keep the show impressive and interesting. The all-female nature of the cast, crew and band gives the group a relaxed, cohesive vibe. For those with qualms or questions about the single-sex casting, I offer my personal explanation: “Rocky” is a show which has always pushed the boundaries of our biological and cultural conceptions of gender, sex and sexuality — casting the show all-female invites us once again to reexamine our preconceived notions of sexual identity. Also known as: “Who cares? It’s fun.”
Director and lead actress Valerie Steinberg ’09 deserves a shout-out for pulling the piece together and channeling the power, the sex and the strangeness that is the evil genius Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The show from start to finish is remarkably true to the movie version and provides colorful, easily recognizable portraits of all the wacky, memorable main characters. But it begins to drag in the final act — choreography is less precise, plot points are more convoluted, transition times are longer and the cast seems to start to run out of ways to gasp orgasmically. No worries, though — if you’ve taken my advice you shouldn’t notice, since by then you’ll be drunkenly groping your friend in the back row.