By Eric Potts
The Richmond Theatre
Runs to 8 January
Two hours, including one interval
Review: Tom Aitken 14 12 16
Nobody will sleep through this, all great fun
At the beginning of the evening, parents were ordered to ‘turn up the volume of your children.’ Rehearsals of cheering and booing followed. It was thus apparent from the outset that the evening was to consist of continuous interplay between actors and the younger members of the audience.
In its simple noisy way all that was great fun, as was Maureen Lipman as the Queen of the Night. When she was so described she greeted her name by squeaking out one of Mozart’s more vertiginous phrases.
She was, however, like everybody, followed about by self-satisfied young man, whose job it was, apparently, to keep an eye on the height of the level of the art on offer. He was a taskmaster, and remarked at one point that he’d seen more culture in a tub of green yoghurt.
Similarly, argument between the cast and their taskmasters (‘Oh no you can’t! Oh yes we can!) was cut short by the taskmaster on duty with ‘Oh… Get a life!’
Local references were brought into play in a similar spirit:
‘Let’s do something silly and fun!’
‘OK, let’s dig up the Petersham Road…’
‘All the old dears from the Old Deer Park.’
Current concerns elsewhere were reflected:
‘Nothing bad is going to happen.’
‘That’s what they said before Donald Trump…. ‘
Don’t worry. I haven’t spoiled your enjoyment by quoting all the best lines. There are plenty more where these came from.
And there are plenty of non-verbal exchanges between those on stage and the children in stalls and gallery. At one point numerous toilet rolls are flung into the off stage darkness, only to be returned with ferocious power and accuracy.
In general, the narrative maintains a fairly clear direction. There is some impropriety of the sort which appeals to children, but also, references to birthdays and other such landmarks, all of them suitably emphasized in some way or another.
Whether any of this was of the order of things you will remember to your dying day I doubt. But it did provide a couple of hours of continuous noisy fun during which interplay between stage and audience was continuous.
No bad thing, then.
Just in case you haven’t noticed, I’ll mention that Chester the Jester and the director, were one and the same man.
One other thing you will notice. (This is not a plot spoiler) Maureen Lipman has somehow engineered the right to become nice at the end of the show. Good on her!
Carabosse: Maureen Lipman
Chester the Jester: Chris Jarvis
Nursie: Matt Rixon:
Beauty: Lauren Hood
Prince: Dan Partridge
Queen: Tanya Newton
King: Graham James
Lilac Fairy: Tilly Ford
Fuscia Fairy/Choreographer: Katherine Iles
Primrose Fairy: Grace Cinque-White
Director: Chris Jarvis
Choreographer: Katherine Iles
Musical Director: Pierce Tee
Lighting: James Smith
Movement and Choreography: Jamie Neale