Potted Panto – The Garrick Theatre, Charing Cross Road, London to 10 January 2020. 4 ****. William Russell.

The audience, young and old, at the Garrick adored the knockabout, the jokes, and the inevitable sing along with which this compilation of pantomime stories performed by two agile chaps, Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner – there were a couple of interruptions from a gormless young man and a lady with a rather nice voice, but they were incidental to the goings on – who kept pulling in opposite directions. The bossy little one (Turner) wanted things done his way, the lanky devious one (Clarkson) failed to oblige.
It is clever, nicely bawdy – Prince Charming’s balls came in for considerable comment much relished by the small boy in front of me – and inventive if all a bit rough and ready. Sophisticated it isnot. Clarkson and Turner have being doing potted shows for a decade or so and it shows. They never put a foot wrong. The highlight was probably when they got the audience on its feet to join in a simulated ride in a coach when Charming was looking for Cinders – they sway, chant, demand action on command and have a wonderful time raising the roof.
Mind you there was also the moment when some poor chap in the front row was hauled to his feet and made to join in the merriment by the lanky Clarkson and the appearance of the Lord Mayor of London looking suspiciously like you know who.
The pair with the director Richard Hurst have sent up other things over the years, including Harry Potter, and the act has played Las Vegas as well as the West End but this melange of pantomimes is the jewel in their crown. It is not the first time they have disgraced the Garrick stage and it probably won’t be the last. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Dick Whittington, Snow White and Aladdin all feature and there is a nice running gag about whether or not A Christmas Carol is a pantomime. The lanky one says it is, the little fat one says it is not, but eventually Scrooge ends up in mid plot as Abenazar as Lanky gets his way and Small chap makes the best of it.
Critics have no place at shows like this other than to report it is value for money, delivers in spades what family audiences want at panto time – jokes, funny costumes and loads of goodwill to all men – and that is suitable for young and old.
Times vary so google Potted Panto and it runs for 70 minutes without an interval so visits to the loo on the way in are advised.

Daniel Clarkson
Jefferson Turner

Director. Richard Hurst.
Design: Simon Scullion.
Lighting: Tim Mascall.
Sound: Tim Lishman.
Photograph:Geraint Lewis.

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