Horror on the Rocks

You know this earthling?

You know this earthling?

In a dark castle along a lonely road, a virgin finds the glory of promiscuity, a straitlaced man discovers the curiosity of alternative lifestyles, and a cross-dressing genius is destroyed by the people he trusts the most. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a musical that wallows in its screwball nature. It features transvestites, interpretive dance, Meatloaf, cannibalism, death lasers, and Tim Curry in a smokin' pair of heels.

The show begins at a wedding where Brad, our hero, proposes to Janet, our heroine. After the wedding, the two are stranded at a castle in the middle of a thunderstorm. Riff Raff, a hunchback alien butler from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania, welcomes them.

A poor-man's Riff Raff and his sister Magenta.

A poor-man's Riff Raff and his sister Magenta.

Inside the castle, the vivacious Doctor Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) greets the couple.  Frank introduces Brad and Janet to his experiment, Rocky, an artificial man forged in the image of Atlas and created in the colours of LGBT pride. Rocky is a soft-spoken, blond, blue-eyed hunk of man-meat who, along with most of the cast, takes Janet for a ride during the song “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch-Me” which incorporates a pretty slick piano section.

With no hope of leaving during the storm, Brad and Janet reluctantly decide to stay the night. Frank accosts and separately seduces both Brad and Janet in the middle of the night, revealing his world of absolute pleasure.  

After a dinner flavoured with cannibalism, Brad and Janet want out, but Frank turns the couple to stone along with Rocky and one of his assistants in an act of literal objectification. The statues awake to find themselves on a theatre stage wearing burlesque fashion, heavy-handed make up, and a strong desire to sing. Their song details how they’ve come to enjoy their new lifestyle and the tune climaxes in an underwater orgy suspended over Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a production that never asks for a reason why things happen, and this suits the story’s overarching message. Laboratories, elaborate dance numbers, and space aliens aside, the musical is about being yourself and not being obligated to explain it to anyone. The musical also normalizes sex and sexualization to some degree, whether this is a good or bad shift is debateable, but it certainly has a hand in removing the taboo of the subject. With the off-the-wall comedy and borderline insane plot, it is easy to write the show off as a weirdo’s wonderland, but at the core of the film it is soft, sweet, and just a little bit sad.

Halloween is approaching, care to do the time warp again at the Mayfair Theatre? Costumes are encouraged!

Stephen Smith

Steve is a second-year student of Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program. He spends most of his days dwelling in the depths of a restaurant’s kitchen. When not slaving over a hot stove, Steve can be found hunched over a keyboard, pounding out a review of Germany’s latest post-ambient, country sludge metal band. His incoherent ramblings are graciously hosted on Metalblast(dot)net.

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