The enduring appeal of pantomime, a peculiarly British theatrical form, is that while ostensibly aimed at children, there is enough in there for adults to enjoy.
And this is where Dick Whittington and His Cat, the Lyric Hammersmith pantomime triumphs. Among the gloriously terrible jokes that have pre-teens rolling in the aisles, there are some absolutely filthy gems for adults. The children will be nudging you and asking what’s so funny, while you weep with laughter at some of the wonderfully risqué material – mainly of course, based around our hero’s name. With a generally witty and punchy script from Skins writer Joel Horwood, and School of Comedy’s Morgan Lloyd-Malcolm, this is a festive wander down the gold-paved streets of London.
Musical numbers come thick and fast, from the ubiquitous Glee parody, through Lady Gaga while Alicia Keys and Jay-Z lend some street cred
Steven Webb is suitably inoffensive as our clean-cut and rather gauche hero Dick; he has the pleasant looks and voice of many a children’s TV presenter. Webb’s delivery is spot-on, never overplaying the knowing looks to the audience and he ably walks the line between juvenile and adult humour. Paul J Medford as his sidekick, The Cat, is more edgy, and he carries the story through by dint of his sheer energy and obvious enjoyment. Rosalind James as Alice is a feisty heroine with just the right amount of sex appeal and a voice to lift the roof, but the show is stolen completely by Shaun Prendergast’s outrageous Sarah the Cook. With his gravel voice, single entendres and numerous costume changes, he has the audience eating out of his hand, like a practised old pro.
Simon Kunz’s King Rat is scary enough while Nathan Bryon as Scaramouche milks a superfluous part for all it is worth, and if Lainie Baird’s energetic choreography is sometimes executed with more enthusiasm than skill, well this is a small quibble. Veteran Director Steve Marmion hurtles the gossamer thin plot along at breakneck pace taking in Dick’s bedroom, the fields of Gloucester-ester-ester-ester-shire, the streets of London, a dingy sewer, a ship wreck and the mythical island of Timubkthree. Musical numbers come thick and fast, from the ubiquitous Glee parody, through to Lady Gaga while Alicia Keys and Jay-Z lend some street cred. The narrative, voiced by Stephen Fry and Alan Davies is not quite witty enough, but tiny gripes notwithstanding, this is a slick, energetic show that had children, and more than a few adults, streaming out into the cold night with beaming grins.
**** (4 stars)
Runs until 8th January