by Fine Time Fontayne & Kevin Shaw.
Coliseum Theatre Fairbottom Street OL1 3SW To 14 January 2012.
Runs 2hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 0161 624 2829.
Review: Stoon 3 December 2011.
A Dick short of Wit.
The production team behind 2010’s high achieving Sleeping Beauty reawake, but this year the Good Fairy has not been so generous in her sprinkling of stardust.
It’s partly a script issue: the input of Coliseum regular Eric Potts has been jettisoned in favour of a piece, jointly penned by regular Dame Fine Time Fontayne & Artistic Director Kevin Shaw, which is top heavy with wisecracks and skinny on storytelling. Nobody’s spared immunity from the Stand-Up factor and the bonding value of some straight dialogue scenes and honest non-overacting is absent, so despite relocation to the High Seas, it’s a rudderless serious of showcase scenes which jolt the narrative forward without creating a sense of the wider plot or generating momentum.
Naturally all the panto tick boxes requirements are met but the get-soaked scene doesn’t make a real splash and bolting-on the sing-a-long to the very end feels an afterthought.
Character-wise Fine Time Fontaine Fontayne’s presence guarantees worthy moments, as do his frocks that shock, and Richard Fletcher gives Billy Suet far more bounce than his name suggests. Andonis Anthony does the dark side proud with his silky Uncle Quentin-esque sneering but his verse speaking never establishes him as threat, whilst shrilly Dick needs an injection of Tomboy plus a quota limit for thigh-slapping to achieve credibility.
The sameness of the overused dance routines reduces to them to filler status – the same troupe’s effectiveness when they double up as King Rat’s henchman is much diminished by their Halloween-based costumes. The cumulative effect is a shortfall of valid interaction, between cast members and with the audience.
This is plenty decent in the regional festive stakes, but given the Coliseum’s pedigree feels lacklustre – a year proves a long time in pantomime.
King Rat: Andonis Anthony.
Dick Whittington: Justine Elizabeth Bailey.
Fairy Failsworth/Sultana of Morocco: Liz Carney.
Billy Suet: Richard J Fletcher.
Saucy Sarah Suet: Fine Time Fontayne.
Alice Fitzwarren: Lisa Holliman.
Alderman Fitzwarren: Simeon Truby.
Tommy the Cat: Rachel Hollister/Elizabeth Lawrence.
Director: Kevin Shaw.
Designer: Celia Perkins.
Lighting: Julie Washington.
Sound: Lorna Munden.
Musical Director: Dave Bintley.
Fight director: Renny Krupinsk.i
Choreographer: Beverley Edmonds.
Assistant choreographer: Kelsey Moran.