Drawing: Richard O’Brien in The Rocky Horror Show

richard o brien

The cult classic The Rocky Horror Show returned to the West End this week for a limited, and already extended season at the Playhouse Theatre before embarking on a UK tour.

Also returning is the shows creator. Richard O’Brien, this time as the Narrator. When it premiered in the 63-seat upstairs ‘working space’ at the Royal Court Theatre in London’s Sloane Square in June 1973, Richard played Riff Raff, handyman to Tom Curry’s mad transvestite scientist,  Frank N Furter. Both reprised their roles for the 1975 film adaption, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Riff Raff is a parody of Frankenstein’s servant Igor.

Considered ahead of its time in terms of attitudes towards gender, Richard is proud that it “made the climate for people who feel marginalised and lost in their journey as far as gender is concerned.” in a recent interview, discussing his ‘gender spectrum’ theory, he said, ‘It’s my belief that we are on a continuum between male and female. There are people who are hardline male and there are people who are hardlined female, but most of us are on the continuum. I think of myself  70% male and 30% female.”

I was pleased to meet him (and 30% her) at the Playhouse stage door before Saturday’s first of two evening performances. Extremely genial and accommodating with the die-hard fans and usual riff raff graphers alike. Like me has duel British-New Zealand nationality, so our converstion was more the citizenship spectrum than gender as he signed my drawing.


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