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Prepare to know thyself as ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ hits the live stage

Thursday 20th, October 2016 / 12:25
By Jennie Orton
Always beloved, Rocky Horror evolves with the times like the beast that it is.

Always beloved, Rocky Horror evolves with the times like the beast that it is.

VANCOUVER — For many, there is a moment where Rocky Horror evolves; when the stage lights hit Dr. Frankenfurter and he clutches his own soaking wet shoulders, and you try to ignore the people in the audience who are yelling out something about his shadow looking like Alfalfa, and he begins to sing a song about longing for home. You start to see the pulsating heart of what has been presented as a tongue in cheek romp through a satirical B-movie key party; The Rocky Horror Picture Show, everyone’s favourite wild night at the movies, is really about the lonely road of finding the peace in being yourself.

After all, it’s not easy having a good time. Sometimes even smiling makes one’s face ache.

Much like Frankenstein (one of its satirical influences), The Rocky Horror Picture Show is about trying to understand humanity and your place within it while battling a crippling sense that you do not belong. It is Geekenders artistic director Fairlith Harvey’s “fervent desire” that the audience leave her stage production remembering the power of that message.

“For people who march to their own drummer, that theme of ‘don’t dream it, be it,’” she says. “I think that’s really awesome and lost a little when you are throwing toilet paper in the theatre.”

As such, those who go to the Geekenders’ production of Rocky Horror to revel in the audience participation script may be out of luck. Care has been taken to separate this production from the film in pacing and theme.

“Our narrator has a neck,” warns Harvey.

The approach was one of a hypothetical: what if no one involved had seen the movie? The result is a self-described “Wizard of Oz meets Galaxy Quest” interpretation. The former manifests in the choice to present the first act entirely in grey-scale, demonstrating Brad and Janet, our heroes in naiveté, and their sheltered and monochromatic view of the world. The latter shows itself in the space invaders and their misguided representation of Earth and humanity thanks to the intercepted science fiction b-movies they encountered during their intergalactic journey for truth. Both subtexts lend themselves well to the idea that roles and appearances can cast shadows on the true self within, and offer an existential backbone to the brilliant satire of pulp that Rocky Horror will always be: a kind of bittersweet companion to the hedonism within.

Rocky Horror should always feel like a party and we will definitely provide that,” promises Harvey. “But I want people to walk away feeling unified as a group. I want them to feel like they have experienced something with us.”

The Rocky Horror Picture Show runs at the Rio Theatre October 27-29.

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