13 years ago, my then beau took me to a tiny college campus cinema in Chicago to see a movie. I had heard nothing of the film, it was older than me and had been a total flop. I had an idea of the creators previous work, but even that was still new to me. I quickly figured that this was going to be no normal cinema experience when I found myself shaking hands with a man in a fully functional straight-jacket. So that was my introduction to Shock Treatment. Originally conceived as a sort-of-sequel to Rocky Horror, it was a wee bit before its time in theme. Brad and Janet, now married, become embroiled in the world of reality TV. The old beau, who was a huge Rocky fan, liked it as an associated piece, but looking back I think he missed some of its charms, and as much as I liked the show, the enthusiasm for the main event (Rocky) took over. The songs were catchy, that I did recall.
When me and the new Rocky fanatic in my life heard of the first adaptation of Shock Treatment for the stage, we were in. She'd never heard of the film, but I remembered the awesome songs. In the spirit of tradition, we went to the midnight showing. In true tradition, it didn't disappoint.
What was originally a pretty oddball story about a town taken over by a TV station has now come into its own. Originally made before the reality TV revolution; before shows like Embarrassing Bodies and satire like The Truman Show showing us where reality TV could lead. What emerges from a cult B-movie made way before its time is a quirky, absolutely hysterical stage production that lives up to the promise of the original score.
The plot has been stripped down and it had become a straight forward poke at reality tv and the desire for fame. Audience participation is a major factor, the story starts with Brad and Janet sat in the audience as Ralph and Betty Hapschatt host the anniversary edition of their relationship counselling show. Pulled up as the latest "guests" Janet and Brad, it transpires, are having problems. Brad ends up being "referred" to the mental health services of Nation and Cosmo McKinley on Sanity Today. Along, of course with toe-tapping tunes, reality TV makeovers and a little electro-convulsion therapy. All of it sponsored by Farley Flavours.
The Kings Head Theatre in Islington is small, and for this is works - there is a lot of blending of stage and audience. Characters interact with the audience (I'll never forget Cosmo getting stuck laying across 3 ladies laps and having to extract himself before he could carry on) and there is an improv nature to parts of it - if it was scripted and happens at every show it really didn't feel like it.
The run has about another month to go now, I'm really hoping it heads out on tour *cough*Brighton*cough* and comes back. Also, new cast recording people! If you fancy a night out its well worth it. I will certainly be heading back if I can make it.
Shock Treatment is running until June 6th, and there are still tickets. Go people, just do it!!