COMEDY / Disgracefully Yours

James Rampton has a hell of a time with Richard O'Brien
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The Independent Culture
The danger with a show from hell is that cheap-shot critics are always likely to call it a show from hell. Disgracefully Yours is by means diabolical, but it is far from heavenly.

In his latest show, Richard O'Brien dons a red-lined dinner jacket, horns and a pointy tail to play Mephistopheles Smith, Lucifer's henchman sent to convince us that hell is now "a groovy and happening place". On a spartan stage with only a vase of flowers and backing musicians for company, he set about this by lashing us with rock numbers and enough doubles entendres to keep Julian Clary supplied for weeks.

He has a mean way with a one-liner and energy to burn. I got exhausted just watching him conga around the stage during "The Best Has Yet to Come From Me". Although they never got into Rocky Horror-style singalongs or bondage-kit, the audience greeted every wag of Mephistopheles' tail with delirious whoops.

It still doesn't quite feel like a cult in the making, however. For a start, there were far too many pinstripes in the audience. But the main drawback is the quality of O'Brien's songs. Despite solid backing from finger-snapping, tutu-wearing singers and vast quantities of dry ice, none of the numbers has the catchiness of, say, "Timewarp" from Rocky Horror. You can't imagine that a soundtrack album from the show would be greatly troubling the scorers at Gallup.

The Devil may have all the best tunes, but he doesn't seem to have lent too many to his mate Mephistopheles.

At the Comedy Theatre, London SW1 (0171-369 1731) to 6 April