REVIEW Dick Whittington
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REVIEW Dick Whittington, Theatre Royal
The Best One In Years, says Kevin Gover
90 seconds. That’s all it took in time to get the audience ‘on side’ in this dazzling, sparkling adventure to rid Old London Town of the rats. In fact, it was King Rat and his team of ‘Squeaky Blinders’ who did this; the boos were instant and loud. Very loud!
The jokes were on-topic and funny, including the references to the Squeaky Blinders and rail bus replacement services. And not a single mention of Brexit!
There were plenty of ‘behind you!’ moments for each time we spotted a rat. EastEnders moments, water squirting the audience moments – yep, it was all there. There were amazing tongue twister moments. We even had floating jellyfish moments!
I was very glad to see Ed Thorpe (Dick Whittington) back this year, in what seemed to be an even bigger presence than last year. My word, he’s a star. He had control of the children from the off, they were right there in the palm of his hand.
Julian Eardley (Dame Dolly Dumpling) is another familiar face, and this is his 10th panto at the Theatre Royal. Long may he continue to return.
Joanna Brown (Alice Fitzwarren) and Jon Bonner (Alderman / Captain / Sultan – running gag here: “It’s the same bloke!) both impressed us even further with their on-stage musical ability. I’m sure that’s the first time I’ve seen an accordion on stage.
Kristopher Milnes was a brilliant King Rat with all the sneers and boos in the right places.
Libby Gore (Fairy Bow Bells) – well, how on earth can she reach those high notes at 10 in the morning?
Jessie Angell was an adorable Cat, and I cannot believe this is her pantomime debut. Look out for the acrobatics too.
Bravo too to the support cast and musicians under the direction of Tom Attwood.
The staging was big, glamorous, loud and noisy… I’m sure the kids in the audience were still speaking about the cheese gun in the interval. And when they all sang ‘Dick’s Got a Cat’… well, I thought the roof was going to come off! Every single child around me was belting out the words as if their life depended on it.
I overheard one teacher say how members of their cohort were “just mesmerised” by what they were watching. The song ‘If I were not upon this ship’ was also very clever in its delivery and choreography.
And I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought “how did he do that?” when Dick had to get from stage left to back of stage in a robe very, very quickly. But then, that’s the magic of the theatre!
One man as I was leaving said: “That was the best one we’ve seen in years!” Yes, he’s right. One hour later, I still have ‘Dick’s Got a Cat’ going round my head… and I loved the ham and cheese toastie in the cafe beforehand.
On until 5 January. Grab a seat!