The Sword in the Stone.
New Wolsey Theatre
until January 10th 2016
In all, there are about eight traditional pantomime stories circulating in theatres every year. Aladdin and Cinderella seeming to be the most popular in our region this season. So when a new Panto story comes along it makes a refreshing change.
Though to be honest, the underlying story about a young person lacking in confidence having to overcome their fears to win the love of their life whilst simultaneously saving the world is not exactly new.
But writer Peter Rowe has taken that core story and wrapped it in Arthurian myth, with a nod to JK Rowling – oh come on, when they were learning to do magic tell me they weren’t trying to remember the Hogwarts house colours! And all the time retaining all the elements of slapstick that befit a Christmas Panto delivered through a wall of sound that has, after fifteen years, become the New Wolsey’s trademark.
The stage is populated by ten incredibly talented people who can act, sing, dance and play musical instruments – frequently at the same time. To single out one for praise would be unfair, to list them all would be boring. But we must mention Jeff – the unwitting audience member who came for a night’s entertainment and ended up on stage!
There are rock songs, there are love songs and the Knights form a boy band! If you wonder why Sandy Grigelis (King Arthur) seemed so at home in that number, check out Ryder Lads! Steve Simmonds KISS-esque guitar solos were a joy, as were Georgina White’s throaty rock numbers – the sort of thing you’d expect from an evil witch and former Russian Bond girl!
But oh dear, we’ve started to do a list and I promised I wouldn’t. The couple sitting beside us were glad to see we had no children with us, as neither did they “We just come for the music” they said. That neatly summed up the possibilities of the rock’n’roll panto genre – you can come for the predictably bawdy jokes, or the theatrical telling of a tale or the music, but all together you will be royally entertained.
The creative team at the New Wolsey have taken a fifteen year old theme, dusted it down, re-vitalised it and produced a thoroughly good Knight’s entertainment.
But wait… we have forgotten to mention one star in particular. A new variation on a well-honed theme… we have all seen the Panto cow, occasionally a Panto horse and I recently shared the stage with a Panto camel but tonight we were introduced to the Panto Dragon, a wonderful piece of puppetry.
Tickets have been selling fast for this show since they went on sale earlier this year – don’t leave it too late to book, click here