Rocky Shock

Devised with music and lyrics by Harry Humberstone, Emma Keaveney-Roys, James Newton, Katy Sobey, Tom Crosley-Thorne, Tom Brennan
The Wardrobe Theatre
The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth

Rocky Shock by The Wardrobe Theatre Credit: Paul Blakemore

As camp as Christmas but also sexually explicit and outrageous, Wardrobe Theatre’s latest mash-up is a rather less than wholesome, adults-only alternative to the traditional, seasonal pantomime next door.

Following the hilarious Goldilock, Stock and Three Smoking Bears, Reservoir Mogs, Oedipus in Boots etc, Rocky Shock is a mostly amusing, if not laugh-out-loud, rerun of the Rocky Balboa story. But with time warp characters and cross-dressing.

Resplendent in baggy silk shorts and dreadful wig, the angst-ridden naïf (Caitlin Campbell) Rocky Featherboa rubs up against basque-wearing Apollo Creed (Alex Roberts), a lipsticked, grotesque package of cocaine, glitter and potassium. Strutting fabulously in fishnets and red heels, Roberts milks the gift of a part: athletic, snarling, lascivious and daft.

Adrian (Daniel Norford) is somewhat less bookish than her celluloid counterpart and oh so ripe to shed her frumpy persona to get right in/on the face of the opposition before revealing an out-of-this-world secret while jittery Paulie and Apollo’s creepy roller-skating henchman Riff Reff (Kim Heron) complete the gruesome, incongruous mismatched players in a dastardly, musical plot against humanity. And only our lumbering, lumpish, guttural unlikely hero, haunted by parental whisperings, can save the world.

A slightly slow and stilted first act gives way to a knock-out second round with nods to bang-up-to-date current affairs and Tom Crosley-Thorne’s compositions dead-ringers for the original score. A surprisingly sweet ice rink first date and bonkers Chuckle Brothersesque routine with a turkey add diversion from heavy repetition from the almost inarticulate hero and dull downtown Philadelphia.

Brash and bawdy, a punchy antidote to Christmas.

Reviewer: Karen Bussell

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