Theatre, Musicals & Concerts – Views & Reviews
I’m a huge fan of The Rocky Horror Show, Richard O’Brien’s classic stage musical, and its 1975 movie adaptation The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Although both have grown from cult classic to global phenomenon, the 1981 movie sequel Shock Treatment was no way near as successful and although it has developed a dedicated audience, until now it has never been produced on stage.
Shock Treatment sees newlyweds Brad & Janet Majors visit the local Denton Television Studios, workplace of their old friends Ralph & Betty Hapschatt who have recently divorced. Brad & Janet are chosen as contestants for Bert Schnick’s Marriage Maze quiz, a front for sinister siblings Cosmo & Nation McKinley to acquire patients for their Dentonvale soap opera set in a psychiatric hospital. Behind the scenes, mysterious new sponsor Farley Flavors has his own agenda for Janet – but does he want to turn her into a major celebrity for his Faith Factory show, or does he just want her to himself?
The original strapline for Shock Treatment ambitiously declared that is was “not a sequel, but an equal”, though sadly audiences didn’t agree. However I’m amongst many Rocky Horror fans who still hold it in good favour, not least for the incredible soundtrack by O’Brien and his Rocky Horror collaborator Richard Hartley. While Rocky‘s musical roots came from the Rock ‘n’ Roll vaults, Shock Treatment embraces the emerging 80’s sound with heavier emphasis on keyboards, drums and sound effects.
The poor reception it received at the time may have been due to the complicated plot (at the 2011 New Forest Film Festival O’Brien himself described it as “exceptionally muddy and difficult to follow”) but it was remarkably ahead of its time – scarily so, given almost 25 years later our television landscape is swamped with reality TV shows and an obsession with celebrity.
Perfect timing then for a new stage adaptation, and fans can rest assured that the material will be treated with intensive care as Director Benji Sperring has spent a decade chasing the rights, and scriptwriter Tom Crowley has condensed and refined this adaptation of a fabulously freaky fable. With a poster encouraging Doctors & Nurses fancy dress, this time around the audience should be jumping like a real live wire!
‘Shock Treatment’ is at the King’s Head Theatre from 17 April to 6 June. For details and tickets see kingsheadtheatre.ticketsolve.com.