The Nativity Panto by John Savournin and David Eaton. The King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 to 11 January 2020. 4****. William Russell

The Nativity Panto – or A Not So Silent Night
By John Savournin & David Eaton.
Original Music & Lyrics by David Eaton.
The King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 1QN to 11 January 2020.
Tues-Sat 7pm. Family Matinee 7,8,14 & 15 Dec & 1 & 5 Jan.
Adults (16+) 5,6,7,12,13,14,19,20,21,22,27,28,29,30,Dec. 2,3,4,7,8,9,10,11 Jan.

Runs 1h3 35 mins One Interval.
TICKETS: 0207 226 8561.
Review: William Russell December 4

A witty winter wonderland where Jack Frost Jennie Jacobs) is up to no good, bad jokes and good ones, dreadful puns plus a red nosed reindeer who cannot fly has arrived at the King’s Head in the form of this latest pantomime from the Charles Court Opera Company. It has everything, except for John Savournin playing dame, but he is present in spirit since he directed the show. It is nicely smutty, irreverent, the dialogue is in rhyming couplets and the five strong cast – one man (Matthew Kellett) and four dames (Emily Cairns, Meriel Cunningham, Jennie Jacobs and Catrine Kirkman – are forever on the move playing multiple roles. There is also a singing glove puppet and a brand new take on the traditional pantomime kitchen scene. For once dough is not rolled out and flung at the audience.
Up in the frozen north the Christmases (Matthew Kellett and Meriel Cunningham) are having problems about producing toys and, since their reindeer (Emily Cairns) cannot fly, how to deliver them. Mrs Christmas would also like to have a child but Mr Christmas seems to be lacking in that department. However, and let us not go into it, she does end up spectacularly pregnant and eventually delivers the Christmas child.
Jack Frost (Jennie Jacobs), a vision in skin tight silver lame with fingernails to make even the most convinced masochist quail, is up to no good, trying to dispose of the Christmases and assorted Kings aided by her sidekick whose name I couldn’t quite catch (Catrine Kirkman). What follows is a terrific mish mash of comedy routines and production numbers, double entendres and even a closing sing-along about how the audience loves Father Christmas. There is also lots of shameless product placements aimed at persuading the audience to buy King’s Head mugs, dish cloths and memberships. The Charles Court pantomimes are the stuff of legend and this latest bids fair to go down as one of the best legends of all. Kellett has a wonderful time as Mr Christmas, and then displays amazing legs in red silk tights and a red and gold silk costume when he plays one of the victims of Jack Frost’s villainy. It seems unfair to say there is a star of the show, but while Mr Kellett is a regular in these pantos – eight and counting – Ms Cairns, Dandini in last year’s panto, has come to the fore. Her timing is spectacular, her demise quite tragic and she carries all before her. But it is an ensemble affair and this is an ensemble of the highest quality aided by that singing glove puppet and the efforts of Mr Eaton at something or other, which might have been keyboards, and drummer Dave Jennings who gets to perch half way up the wall to one side of the stage. And as they say at one point – a Holly Christmas to you all.
Emily Cairns
Meriel Cunningham.
Jennie Jacobs.
Matthew Kellett.
Catrine Kirkman.
Understudy – Laura Porter.

Director: John Savournin.
Musical Director: David Eaton.
Choreographer: Damian Czarnecki.
Set Designer: Rachel Szmukler.
Co Costume Designers: Catrin Short Thyrsson & Mia Wallden.
Lighting Designer: Ben Pickersgill.
Props Maker: Jessie Huckin.
Production Photographs:Bill Knight.

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