sarah and jack

Iain Lauchlan as Dame Sarah the Cook and Craig Hollingsworth as Idle Jack. Picture: Robert Day

Dick Whittington

Belgrade Theatre

*****

IAIN Lauchlan is certainly a hard worker – as well as being the impressive writer and director he is also Dame Sarah the Cook in this year’s Pantomime at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry.

There are the usual components with enough twists of originality to keep it fresh. I always love the bit where the children go on stage at the end.

Dick Whittington is a real treat, signalling for me the start of the Christmas period beautifully. The theatre was packed and the sense of excitement as the music started quite palpable. Fairy Bow Bells (Anna Mitcham), with a good line in Cockney rhyming slang, starts the fun sparring with her nemesis Queen Rat (Melone M’Kenzy), who ‘can’t half sing’!

The story is given a fresh twist too. Dick (Tricia Adele-Turner) and Tommy the cat (wonderful – Becky Stone) arrive in the capital where the streets are ‘paved with gold’ to find the place overrun with huge rats.

Tommy cleans up and wins Dick a place on the Saucy Sal sailing to Morocco with Dame Sarah and stalwart sidekick Idle Jack (Craig Hollingsworth), and a couple of ratty companions Scratch and Sniff (Matthew Brock and Eden Dominique), Queen Rat’s silly emissaries.

Dame Sarah has her eyes firmly fixed on the Sultan of Morocco (Declan Wilson) as her fifth husband and icing the cake is the wonderful sloppy scene – with our pre-selected stooge – poor chap - Kieran covered in foam…

I particularly enjoyed the scene with the projected bells telling Dick in a dream to return to London after he has been banished after a ratty framing for a robbery, leaving behind his new love Alice (Kelly Agredo) and her father Alderman Fitzwarren (Declan Wilson). I also enjoyed the luminous underwater scene with the giant octopus and children’s ensemble – lovely.

The Dame’s costumes are outrageous and gorgeous, particularly the boat one – and plenty of audience participation, throwing foam balls at rats, the Haka from Dame Sarah’s rugby club (the Bees) and the sweet song at the end. All good family fun, where the actor’s improv skills shine through when things go awry, as they inevitably do, Idle Jack called Dick ‘she’ which he covered beautifully by saying ‘he’s wearing fish net tights!’ Gorgeous; go see. To 07-01-17

Jane Howard

25-11-16

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