Adapted by James Fenton from the novel by Miguel de Cervantes.
Songs by James Fenton & Grant Olding.
The Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0HH to 2 February 2018.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2pm/
Runs 3hr One interval.
Review: William Russell 8 November.
Hilarious adventures as the Don rides once again
It does go on a bit too long, but this sparkling production directed by Angus Jackson bids to be the best pantomime in London this year and has in David Threlfall a magnificent Don, a crumbling ruin of a man forever seeking that impossible dream. As Sancho Panza Rufus Hound struts the stage acting as master of ceremonies, confiding in the audience, exuding bonhomie from every pore and on press night when some pyrotechnics accidentally set off the theatre fire alarms rising to the occasion magnificently. The show went on.
The joke are relentless, the cast have a wonderful time playing everything from peasants to donkeys, horses to duplicitous noblemen who mock the Don most cruelly. There are sheep, a rebellions hawk, the windmills appear and the Don flies up into the heavens several times on the end of a single cable. Maybe it is more pantomime than the book and it would be improved if it lost a few minutes, but it remains a glorious night out. The songs a tuneful, the lyrics elegant and although Threlfall looked exhausted at the end of the show the audience was in raptures. The Don’s horse and Sancho’s donkey are splendidly performed and how they have been created is a delight to behold, Mrs Panza (Natasha Magigi) is a magnificent battle axe and their vast brood of children make a stunning appearance.
As the cruel duke and duchess Richard Dempsey and Ruth Everett are worth hissing, and her ability to glide round the stage is to be admired – roller skates beneath her voluminous skirts one imagines. But however it is achieved it it is very funny to watch. One of the highlights is Hound with a bag on stage catching fruit thrown to him by a peasant in a stage box, another is when the audience get pelted with bread rolls and throw them back. But it is an evening packed with goodies, a Christmas cracker of a show with contents that for once do not disappoint. Maybe nobody shouts “He’s behind you” but it is a close run thing. As to how an actor can play a horse, it is truly a miraculous thing to behold.
And there is, by the way, a lion, a creature most fearsome to behold.
Don Quixote: David Threlfall.
Sancho Panza: Rufus Hound.
Travelling Barber: Will Bliss.
Sowgelder/Shepherd/Lion: Raphael Bushay.
Emerencia/Acrobat: Farrell Cox.
Inn keeper/Lion keeper: John Cummins.
Gines de Pasamonte/Duke: Richard Dempsey.
Duchess: Ruth Everett.
Biscayan/Head courtier: Gabriel Fleary.
Boy: Richard Leeming.
Priest: Nicholas Lumley.
Teresa Panza: Natasha Magigi.
Shepherd/ Merchant/ Lion/Guard: Tom McCall.
Samson Carrasco: Joshua McCord.
Altisidora: Bathsheba Piepe.
Niece/Hawk: Rosa Robson.
Barber: Timothy Spever.
Marcella/Peasant Woman: Eleanor Wyld.
Director: Angus Jackson.
Designer: Robert Innes Hopkins.
Lighting Designer: Mark Henderson.
Sound Designer: Fergus O’Hare.
Musical Director: Tarek Merchant.
Fight Director: Malcolm Ranson.
Puppetry Designer & Director: Toby Olie.
Movement Director: Lucy Cullingford.
Comedy Director Cal McCrystal.