Try as one may putting off the purchasing of tat for people and hiding under the covers does not keep the festive time away. Christmas is coming and is the rolling out across the nation of one of Britains unique traditions. Pantomine.
I thought to myself before the opening of the curtains, how does one describe pantomine to an American? Noting back to a conversation I had earlier, the American friend who asked what I was going to see, not a few hours before. I put to him; “Slapstick delivery of a childrens fairy tale, told with a twist or two of Monty Python and Carry On comedy, variably camp with in-jokes and very subtle adult humour.” “Oh and a sing-a-long.” “And a dame”. He seemed so confused. Perhaps only then it is the British who ‘get’ Panto.
One goes into Panto with a smile, comes out with a warmer fuzzy feeling of good cheer. Legend of the stage Kenneth Alan Taylor penned Dick Whittington after an absence of 7 years, last performed in 2007. Each year with each production the script is written from scratch. Kenneths typical role as Dame, this year fulfilled by the Russ Abbott-like performance of stage and screen veteran John Elkington, (as Sarah the Cook.) The Nottingham Playhouse chorus girls open the show, followed by Kevin McGowans show stealing performance as King Rat was so uttering entertaining with the wit and sarcasm fetching of a 80s cartoon villain. Bouncing quips and fun insults in one to one scenes with Rebecca Little as the ever forgetful Fairy Bowbells. Rebecca with extensive panto performances, spanning 17 years. Poor fairy this year, not quite knowing which show she was in this year with fun pokes at the Theatre Royal intentionally wrote no doubt made for hilarious laughter from the crowd.
Another twist to the tale this year sees Dick played by a male actor, Tim Frater takes the role to vibrant height with his infectious charisma, paired with the ever flexible feline companion Tallulah (Jasmine White). Adorned in a black cat suit cute as a button with a hint of playful seduction. There was mumbling and utterings from the people around for Dick to instead have ran away with the beauty Tallulah being the twist instead. With confidence and charm, Matthew Chase takes up the mantle of Jack as the ever faithful supporter of Dick. Dick looking to make his fortune in London Town in search of gold paved streets, meets the bright and beautiful Alice (Natalie Taylor Gray making her panto debut). Daughter to owner of the Emporium, Florrie Fitzwarren. Anthony Hoggard portrayal as Florrie is cast perfectly, genuine felt playful banter between Florrie and Sarah are some the best highlights of the night. As the tale goes the Rat King attempts to implicate Dick in the theft of money from Florrie, as Tallulah being the last cat in London his rats and he can take over! Mu-hahahaha!
Adventures unfold with a sail ship to the Americas, marking up a large stage prop. Before a storm wrecks the ship with some of the craziest rabbit swimming you ever did see. Themes of Jaws, James Bond and Hawaii 5-0 play from the in house live band. A shipwreck lands the survivors in Rio, just in time for carnival!
“O’le o’le, o’le o’le. Feeling Hot hot hot” dance routine. To raucous applause and thunderous calling for more. Performers in full fun mode, delivered. Running through the song a second time with joyous loud chorus from the crowd. As if in a moment of groundhog day, the cheer was louder asking for more! A third. Sweat rolling from the brow of Anthony, which only seemed to spur the audience once again. With a nod and smile members of stage management behind the scenes joining the stage for a fourth! His panting clear and smile bright, the stalls and circles cheered with indication from Sarah and a nod from Jack for another. Only with a live crowd with live music and performers up for a laugh could you find such a moment.
Dick Whittington does not fail to deliver a vibrant stage pantomime and continues our love of the strange annual tradition with great pride. Worthy certainly of a thoroughly entertaining fun for the whole family, 9 out of 10.
Friday 27 November 2015 – Saturday 16 January 2016
Main House – Tickets from: £25.50 (Family ticket £75)
See Nottingham Playhouse website for full details.