Thursday, 30 November 2017

REVIEW: King Tut: A Pyramid Panto at the Kings Head's Theatre

The Kings Head's Christmas offering is billed as a boutique pantomime and is the third consecutive year presented by Charles Court Opera with script, direction and starring (for around half the nights) John Savournin. This year's show is loosely based around the discovery of Tutankhamun burial chamber by Howard Carter and is firmly targeted at an adult audience . 

The small intimate space of 110 seats is transformed by Sean Turner into the Egyptian tomb and we are whisked from 1922 back to King Tut's time. In many ways this production has its routes in the harlequinade that proceeded traditional Victorian pantomime with just five stock characters . Harlequin, here Howard Carter, loves Columbine, here called Evelyn and they are pursued by Pantaloon, here called Lord Conniving. The chaos is created by Clown; here as King Tut and the servant, here a talking camel!

Savournin plays Lord Conniving, revelling in the part and the chance to adopt bizarre disguises as a Egyptian courtier, a throne, a palm tree and a dancing girl. He easily creates the villain of the piece and elicits the required boos and jeers from the audience with a John Cleese like stare.

Francesca Fenech plays Evelyn, in love with Carter but causing him severe bouts of wind until she adopts a cross dressing disguise! Carter is played by Matt Ward, the uptight straight man to the wacky comedy characters.

Alys Roberts plays the Welsh speaking King Tut with a youthful zeal and energy and Philip Lee is hilarious as Clive the camel and later appears in a comedy tribute to Bruce Forsyth's generation game and catchphrase. He leads the audience interaction with his call about his lovely camel hump and dragging two willing participants up on stage for the game show.

They make a brilliant entertaining troupe delivering awful puns with glee such as
"super fish oil injuries" or "Cairo-practer" or the Australian dancing queen , an "Abba-original " and are at their best in pastiche pop songs including "I want to know what love is", "Space oddity" and "Downtown" backed by David Eaton (who has rewritten the lyrics) and Dave Jennings.

There will be slicker pantomimes, with higher production values and bigger magical effects this Christmas but CCO have created a lively entertaining and fresh take on pantomime delivered by a team having fun on a break from Opera.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★
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