On Thursday night, Mrs. hatboy and I went to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at a Helsinki cinema. The twist was, this was a live performance of the stage show. It was happening live on stage in London, and being broadcast live to cinemas all over the place. Including Helsinki. So we got to watch, and enjoy along with a lot of other people who had clearly been to live shows many times and knew exactly what to heckle and when, as a really excellent set of performers played out this … well, this show. You know the show.
If you don’t, this is it in a nutshell.
And oh, what a night of gay-bashing, transphobia, slut-shaming, rape-joking and general minority hate-triggering it was. Except, no it wasn’t, because … I don’t know. Apparently The Rocky Horror Picture Show is okay. Because reasons. And I don’t disagree with that. When even the creator calls it juvenile and admits he wrote it in a fit of sniggering adolescent tomfoolery, you can’t really summon up much outrage. And it’s still going strong after 42 years, so…
Plus, it’s theatre. I’m not going to make this into a whole thing, I was just struck at how much sensitive stuff was in this show. And it’s celebrated, and that’s wonderful! Honestly, how can you object to something so profoundly, gloriously silly? As Mrs. Hatboy said, putting this up on the stage in the 1970s must have been an act of courage bordering on the insane.
Me, I hadn’t even been aware that the movie had been based on a stage show. I am woefully ignorant of all things Rocky Horror, especially considering its affinity with bad old-school science fiction and other genre classics. I’ve seen the movie twice in my life, and the live show – now – once. But the audience – here in Helsinki, and certainly over in London – had certainly been involved more times than I have.
Apparently there’s a whole script for the audience as well as the players, including yelling “arsehole” every time anyone on stage says “Brad”, and “slut” every time anyone on stage says “Janet”.
Or, in this case, “cock” when guest narrator Stephen Fry said “it felt like she was riding an enormous…”
“Well, it says ‘tidal wave’ here, but ‘cock’ is better,” he replied to the audience, with infinite Fry aplomb.
I have to say the narrators were a highlight for me, since I did not get up and join in the Time Warp. Mrs. Hatboy did, and I will endeavour to do so myself next time … but this time, I was full of dinner and candy and I just wasn’t caught up in it.
Ade Edmonson got into the fish-nets, Baby Spice led the Time Warp, and … I don’t know who that other woman was but she did the pre-show warm-up and intermission chats and she ate a cupcake on stage.
Giles, from Buffy, also did a great job narrating.
Great night all ’round. Well done. I don’t understand why there aren’t more live shows being broadcast to cinemas for audiences to enjoy. This should be something George Takei’s Allegiance is all over.