A four star performance from Philip Lee in the title role carries this latest Charles Court Opera Company to success – the show itself would have got four stars but the sound system in Park 90 meant that some of the sung plot simply did not come across so that one had no idea what was going on at times. It is a brand new show with Savournin mixing in characters from plays to pantomimes ranging from Peter Pan to Jack in the Beanstalk by way of three blind mice to make his tale about what looks like the redemption of Stiltskin. The result is not a pantomime by any stretch of the imagination – there is no dame for a start. It makes for an enjoyable enough piece, but it really did need surtitles. The venue is intimate and the singers were miked so there is no excuse but as no sound designer is credited that could be the reason. It is also questionable whether Rumpelstiltskin is a suitable hero figure being in the original a distinctly disagreeable gnome. However Lee delivers a camp, inventive performance and establishes that necessary rapport with the audience backed by a terrific cow, a fugitive from the world of the Beanstalk – the magic beans are somewhere in the plot – played by Tamoy Phipps in a splendid blue pyjama suit costume with magnificent udders the contents of which end up being sprayed over the audience. Oddly she has no tail and even more oddly in Act Two the udders have disappeared. Poor cow indeed. Emily Cairns and Lucy Whitney play more or less everybody else and rush on and off in a flash as they change from one to the next. Savournin directs it all with his usual firm touch and it all gallops along but – and he also wrote it – the book is not among his best and he has chosen some odd stories in the past for his Christmas offering, Beowolf being the one everyone remembers. Eaton has come up with a tuneful score and Alex Berry’s set is intriguing. It is the season of good will and it would be nice to have been more generous with those wretched stars but compared to all the past productions, and I have seen every Christmas one since the company’s Rosemary Branch days of blessed memory, it is getting what it gets.
Director: John Savournin.
Musical Directir: David Eaton.
Choreographer: David Hulston.
Set & Costume Design: Alex Berry.
Lighting Designer: Jo Palmer.
Production Photographs: Bill Knight.