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Thursday, 31 December 2020

REVIEW: Jack and the Beanstalk at the Belgrade, Coventry (Online)

The challenge this year is how to pick which of the eighty online Pantomimes to purchase and watch as there are a wide range of titles and approaches to the new medium. One way is to go to the biggest producers of a normal year and select their offering and you can't go far wrong with Imagine Theatre who usually produce 14 shows each season. Their version of Jack and the Beanstalk sticks to the traditional storyline but innovates and plays with the medium to brilliant effect. 

It starts in an empty venue where two veterans of Imagine shows sit on the edge of a bare stage staring into the deserted auditorium and sadly discussing the absence of live shows. Craig Hollingsworth suggests doing an online stream to a bemused Iain Lauchlan. But as a writer, director and Performer, Lauchlan rises to the challenges to deliver a very clever up to date script and plays multiple roles. He plays the Fairy Fluff, Giant Blunderbus and Dame Trot, all in very good costumes and changing with some whizzy editing! Hollingsworth also has multi roles as King Cuthbert, Fleshcreep, and Simon Trott which means effectively one of the two is on stage most of the time to drive the storytelling along at a good pace. 

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Turbine Theatre

Pantomime at this time of year is usually a family affair but there has always existed an adult version which targets a narrower audience in which there are no boundaries. Jim Davison toured often with Sinderella and Boobs in the Wood and versions are still available online but this version from Paul Taylor Mills at the Turbine Theatre definitely does not start from the same outlook as those nineties shows. Instead his Cinderella is a 2020 socially distanced romp that soon lives up to its billing of "not for the faint-hearted". It is definitely for an 18 plus audience and you soon lose count of the use of the "F-word"s, repeated often for cheap laughs from the Battersea audience. 

The pedigree of the show bodes well. Taylor-Mills has had some creative success since he opened the tiny Turbine Theatre next to the redeveloping Battersea Power station. Jodie Prenger who co-wrote the show with Neil Hurst, found fame on the TV Talent show "I'd do anything" and has established herself as a Leading Lady in Oliver!, Annie, Spamalot and most recently in a revival of A Taste of Honey. Director Lizzie Connolly met her star of this show, Rufus Hound who plays Buttons in the West End production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrel. The cast is restricted by the rule of six so alongside Hound are a hard-working talent cast of five.

Monday, 21 December 2020

REVIEW: D!CK The Adult Panto at the Guildford Fringe (Online)

In a year full of uncertainty, one thing you can be certain of is that the Guildford Fringe production of ‘D!CK the Adult Panto’ will leave no innuendo unspoken.

Without doubt the most obvious choice for an adult pantomime but writers James Chalmers, Nick Wyschna and Charlotte Bateup do step up to the plate by adding plenty of risqué comedy and on the line humour that is perfectly relevant for 2020. 

The witty one-liners, political quips and ingeniously raunchy references are perfectly questionable and there’s much more than dick jokes alone. 

The musical choices throughout provided some old school nostalgia with both musical and pop numbers from the last 3 decades. The lyrical rewrites are clever and imaginative but be prepared to never hear those songs in the same way again.
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