‘I hate old age,’ complains Richard O’Brien. ‘The only thing going for it is the bus pass.’ But although the Rocky Horror Show writer and former Crystal Maze host may bemoan his 67 years, the revival of his 1982 musical The Stripper, now on a five-week tour of the UK, shows that his career still has plenty of life.
Originally commissioned by the Sydney Theatre Company and based on a novel by crime writer Carter Brown, O’Brien claims that the revamped production – written with Rocky Horror Show collaborator, composer Richard Hartley – is long overdue. ‘It was something that was done in Australia for five weeks,’ he explains, ‘and I was never very happy with the production out there. It fell short on many levels. So I took out four or five songs and a character, and generally tightened it up.’
However, the composition of this jazz noir musical hasn’t been without its difficulties. O’Brien admits: ‘Brown never introduced a female character unless he introduced her breasts at the same time. But I’ve tried my hardest not to let the show become exploitative, demeaning or misogynistic, so we can all have a laugh at the period without compromising the actors or embarrassing the audience.’
What’s more, he believes that its Glasgay! run will be a vital barometer of the show’s success. ‘I think the Glasgow run is going to tell us more about the future of the show than anywhere else; I expect the reaction will be completely individual.’
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 29 Sep–Sat 3 Oct.