Peter McGarry is an experienced,
independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to
review Talisman Theatre productions.
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The
Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content
of these reviews and will not comment publicly on what he writes.
This is Pantoland with its own form of Brexit
from the norm.
Without any need for Article 50, it merrily mixes its political
puns into a melting pot along with the likes of Bo Peep, Red
Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs.
Writer-director Stephen Duckham has taken tradition by the
horns and sent it stampeding in several refreshing new directions.
At the same time what are surely seen as the essentials -
hissable baddie, lovelorn youth, audience participation -
The show's biggest strength lies in one of the best panto
dames you are likely to see. Kenny Robinson is fast, flexible
and funny as he skilfully sidesteps the more obvious aspects
of the conventional drag act to focus on lively humour, quick
repartee and a fine rapport with the audience. Together with
Stephen Duckham's vigorous direction, he ensures an overall
entertainment that seldom falters.
Commanding villainy emanates from Amanda Dodd's wicked Baroness
who had evil plans to cut high-speed rail (yes, really) through
the little pigs' homes. Strutting the stage, she is mightily
malevolent, if a shade over-emphatic at times.
As for Red Riding Hood herself, with a neatly expanded story
line, Nikki Cross once again delivers a performance of fine
style and assurance, enhanced by some notable duets with Ashley
Clifford. And in the general melee there are Des McCann's
personable policeman, Katie Siggs's sweet Bo Peep and, of
course, the scene-stealing Three Little Pigs.
After a briefly sluggish start, the production quickly finds
its feet and Sally Jolliffe's choreography keeps company movement
well controlled and, in the case of a forest dance sequence,
It's a show which can effectively please all ages. No call
for any referendum here.