October 18, 2019
Some rocky moments in unrestrained ‘Rocky Horror’
By John Busbee for The Culture Buzz
Kata Klysmic Productions lives in the untamed regions of Central Iowa’s performing arts wilderness. Are you looking for a family show or meticulously crafted theatre? Steer clear of this cultish return to the antithesis of a Disney’s castle-dominated world – Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s ala-1930s-horror-film foreboding abode bristles with ribald irreverence. It is brash, it is raw, and it thoroughly delighted a responsive, sassy crowd on opening night.
The Rocky Horror Show was conceived by Richard O’Brien (music, lyrics and book), inspired by the 1975 Tim Curry-led film, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” This film continues to be screened globally, filling screening venues with fully costumed crowds complete with props and gadgets to engage with the film’s story. At these cultish gatherings, the movie’s audiences know the script verbatim, launching timely responses to the film’s dialogue.
This stage production’s audiences aren’t nearly as participatory as the cult-rabid movie mobs. This allows those not as familiar with the script to still feel comfortable as glow sticks, bubbles and quick quips fly throughout the room. Let your hair down and prepare for a raucous evening of bawdy, boisterous fun. Plus, the live performance version makes each show a truly unique experience.
A quick recap of the story begins with just-engaged Janet and Brad, who find themselves in a car breakdown in a gloomy lightning storm. No options but to return to a castle they had passed. Their crossing the castle threshold out of the storm becomes their “out of the pan into the fireplace” immersion into a decadent, bizarre world.
There was no playbill to identify who played what role (last year’s partial playbill was still posted on the Kata Klysmic Facebook page). That frustrating omittance doesn’t allow giving credit where credit is due, as this production had some standout performances.
The Narrator was adept at delivering his story-setting narrative while also giving the audience’s adlib word-bombing enough leeway to keep them satisfied, without derailing his narration. Dr. Frank-N-Furter captured all the lascivious swagger the audience could hope for. Janet and Brad countered the bulk of outlandishness with their own naivety and willing seduction into this stimulating world. Rocky Horror displayed all the scantily clad, well-defined musculature his role demands. Magenta, Riff Raff, and Columbia bring a diverse, delectable trio of scene-enhancing, energetic talent to the mix. Dr. Scott’s cameo at the end of the second act adds a bawdy exclamation point to the overall antics.
One of the biggest challenges was the inconsistent sound cueing. There were too many times when a performer’s microphone wasn’t up when they were delivering lines or lyrics, and other times when the balance between the recorded soundtrack and the vocalists was unbalanced. These issues are correctable and likely will be for the balance of the run. That would greatly improve the experience.
Distilled to its elemental core, The Rocky Horror Show is a campy romp, delighting its audiences with an unbridled release of riotous raunchiness, highlighted with blasts of electric staging and singing. And, as the pre-show announcer stated, “the more you drink, the better the show becomes.” So, break out the leather and lace and head to The Garden for a step out of reality and into the salaciously surreal.
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