Dick Whittington

Mercury Theatre, Colchester

3rd December 2016

Among all the seasonal shows, the character of Dick Whittington is based on a real person – albeit very loosely based.  But yes, Richard was Mayor of London and did marry Alice Fitzwarren.  History doesn’t record anything regarding cats, camels or rats!

Ratty King (Ignatius Anthony) had barely poked his evil grinning face out from stage right when the booing and hissing began, the audience were in fine form for an evening of traditional Panto Participation.

This Panto was crying out for political commentary, given it has a mayoral election at its core.  We were not disappointed, there were references to trusting the public vote, eight years of Boris and building a wall around London to keep the Colchestarians out – the more we booed the higher the wall got.   For the less politically aware there was a spitting camel and the inevitable custard pie sketch ingeniously taking place in a rolling kitchen.

There were songs aplenty too, many variations on a theme as the words of The Proclaimers and Madness were amended to suit the plot.  Thomasina (Gracie Lai) sang the most wonderful rendition of ‘Memory’ from Cats (what else?) in meows… doubtless as Andrew Lloyd Webber had penned it in his first draft.

The young members of the cast who comprised the junior chorus are to be praised bur their enthusiasm and accuracy during the many complex song and dance routines which were performed, in many cases, whilst wearing large rat costumes.

The stars of the show, undoubtedly, were Sarah the Cook (Antony Stuart-Hicks) and Idle Jack (Dale Superville) – politically incorrect, quick witted and downright funny, they even had other members of the cast laughing in all the wrong places.  I understand that there was so much ad-libbing during the matinee that the interval had to be curtailed!  The two threw themselves wholeheartedly into their roles, in places quite literally, deviating from their scripts with gay abandon.

This show has all of the elements of a traditional pantomime expertly blended into a couple of hours of harmless fun – a show which is truly a treat for all ages.

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