The cast and crew of Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O’Brien’s latest musical have been trawling London’s strip clubs for inspiration for the “over-the-top” tale.
The studio at St James Theatre will be transformed into the Club Extravaganza in Sixties California, complete with hard-boiled private eyes and a jazz band as well as women — and men — in various states of undress, for The Stripper.
Director Benji Sperring said he wanted to “totally envelop” the audience in the murder-mystery, which is based on a novel by pulp fiction author Carter Brown.
He said: “Me and my creative team have been to a number of burlesque clubs and strip joints, and places like Spearmint Rhino are doing great business off us.
“It’s just to see the various different forms and techniques and styles and I think that as a team we all decided that the less you show the more erotic it is.” Sperring said the show is “full of madcap characters and bonkers over-the-top stories like Rocky Horror but is also weirdly pro-feminist. It is actually the male characters who strip more, so it’s totally subverting the idea of the stripper.”
O’Brien, who lives in New Zealand and has been making staging suggestions via email, said the original novel appealed to the “eternal adolescent” in him.
He said: “This genre was written to be read by the testosterone-fuelled, under-educated male who simply required a beginning, middle and an end that featured a wise-cracking hero and lots of curvy gals. Carter Brown ticked all the right boxes here and it is said that he never introduced a girl without introducing her breasts at the same time.
“But oddly, very oddly, he managed to do this without ever becoming misogynistic in the process.”
The Stripper runs at St James Theatre in Palace Street from July 7 to August 13