On Friday evening to the Theatre Royal, Bath, to see a late-night performance of The Rocky Horror Show. And a good time was had by all.
Rocky was premiered in June 1973, at the Royal Court. It subsequently became a big smash hit almost everywhere, including odd places like Tokyo, though Broadway didn't take to it. Never mind. All right-thinking persons elsewhere loved it. In particular, US college kids loved the movie version. It didn't make any serious money, but it became a cult. And periodically the stage show gets revived. The current UK tour still has some weeks to run: itinerary and much else on the production's own web site.
For those who remain blissfully unaware of what joys await them, perhaps we should say that Rocky is a rock and roll musical. It tells the story of the innocent young Brad and Janet, whose car breaks down and who subsequently find themselves in the castle of Dr Frank N Furter, a man with strange tastes in clothing, and who swings, shall we say, both ways.
Somewhere along the line, the tradition grew up that audiences should dress the part when they go to see Rocky. This is a very rare, if not unique, circumstance. And on Friday last I would guess that some 80% of the audience had made an effort.
Dressing for the part means, if you are full-blooded about it, that the men should dress in drag and the girls go for basques, exposing lots of creamy bosom, and of course, fishnet stockings, suspenders, and stilettos.
Mrs GOB and I went part way. I settled for formal evening wear, and Mrs GOB had fishnet tights and lots of dramatic makeup. I was shown up as a coward by a 60-year-old man to Mrs GOB's right. He had given it the full works, including painted nails.
Lest you think that extreme, let me tell you that, the previous evening, a young gentleman had turned up in the restaurant, and subsequently the theatre, wearing stilettos, a black G-string, and naught else. No one complained (the barman told me), though I think he was improperly dressed myself: surely such an outfit calls for a pair of black evening gloves?
This being a musical, and a much amplified one at that, I had bought seats in one of the upper galleries. Here, I discovered, one meets a much more interesting class of person than in the stalls. There were several groups of cheerful young ladies, wearing not a lot, and all extremely beautiful. Single gentlemen of a certain age, please note: this is a good place to be, if you get the chance, as it struck me that quite a few of the young ladies might have been susceptible to an approach. Yes, even without a formal introduction. Times change, you know. One young lady even smiled at me, which denotes a certain keenness, if not actual desperation.
The second tradition which has grown up around Rocky (it began in the US) is that the audience participates in the show. There are numerous well established routines, which can be mastered by those who take the trouble. Those who have not seen the show before are known in Rocky terminology as virgins, and there is a useful virgin's guide on the official UK fan-club web site.
Rocky is clearly one of those strange phenomena which appeal both to the young and to those who were around when the show was young. Long may it continue to entertain.