By Luke Barnes & Not Too Tame.
The Vaults Theatre, Launcelot Street, Waterloo, London SE1 to 12 January 2020.
Tues – Sat 7.30pm. Mat Sat & Sun 3.30pm.
Runs 90 mins. No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 815 7141
Review: William Russell 28 November.
Christmas comes but once a year and when it comes it brings – well, pantomimes like this which is brim full of good cheer, terrible jokes, lots of four letter words, a man in a sequined dress who believes he can sing karaoke, a friendly dog which nuzzles up to the patrons and drinks their beer, and ugly sisters called Simone and Garfunkel who will help people to their seats and a stepmother with red hair who thinks she is Bette Davis. There is also a Cinderella who wants nothing to do with Charming. In other words this pantomime, which toured last year to great success, has now descended upon London and proves to be great fun. It helps to have a pint or two before hand, which is easy enough as it takes place in a pub inside the theatre which belonged to Cinders’ late Dad – who manifests himself as a juke box – and where she works. You have a choice – opt for a Charming seat at a table and you get molested most. Opt for the raked seats at either end of the oblong space and you might not. But do not bet on it. Whether this is a play is anybody’s guess. It appears to have been written by Luke Barnes with some help from the company and one suspects there is quite a lot of improve going on as they pick on selected audience members. But beneath the chaos there is patently quite a lot of well rehearsed routines being played out and the result is as funny a night out as you are likely to find anywhere in London, possibly anywhere. It may not be star studded but it is a four star occasion without a doubt. Jimmy Fairhurst, who also directs, is the jolly man in the spangled mini dress with the rugby player thighs who does most of the karaoke and keeps it all moving with charm and the slightest element of thuggery. Cinderella (Rosa Coduri) is suitably blonde and beautiful, happy in her barmaid role as not only does she like the work but she gets the odd you know what when she wants with the customers. That she does not want anything to do with Charming (Jack Condon playing a lager lout from the City with style and swivel hips) comes as no surprise. Lizzie Hopley as her step mum channels Bette Davis brilliantly, odd since she is called Judy Garland, while Louise Haggerty and Megan Pemberton give their substantial all to the roles of the step sisters who seem to come from different cities, Simone from Glasgow and Garfunkel from London. That leaves Buttons the dog played by Patrick Knowles who conjures up the perfect pooch, probably not house-trained – his bath scene is a delight – but undeniably friendly, sometimes too friendly. He also runs around with a cast off plastic leg – a key plot point I will not spoil.
It would be best to go with some friends, order your drinks before hand and during the show – there was a constant flow of punters headed for the loo – then sit back, sing the songs when they do karaoke and have yourself a merry liquid Christmas.
Cinderella: Rosa Coduri.
Prince Charming: Jack Condon.
Mike: Jimmy Fairhurst.
Simone: Louise Haggerty.
Judy Garland: Lizzie Hopley.
Buttons: Patrick Knowles.
Garfunkel: Megan Pemberton.
Director: Jimmy Fairhurst.
Designer: Jen McGinley.
Lighting Designer: Jack Weir.
Sound Designer & Musical Director: Daniel Ellis.
Associate Director: Owen Horsley.
Production Photographs: Geraint Lewis.