Don’t expect twerking dames or half-inched pop songs in the Park Theatre’s first panto. It might be narrated by an old lady waiting for a bus outside Finsbury Park Station, but this new musical take on the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ story feels enjoyably old-school.
Co-writers Jez Bond and Mark Cameron have ditched the usual ‘this was the year that was’ panto larks for ‘The Princess Bride’ with a dash of Disney.
Here, the Evil Witch’s spinning-wheel curse on the Princess of Pilipots has caused haberdashery mayhem and a blanket ban on textiles. Much comedy is mined from the nonsense language spoken by the inhabitants of Pilipots and neighbouring state Babuus, with raspberry-blowing and funny walks a-plenty. Cameron’s winningly gruff Dame channels Eric Morecambe; his adopted son (a fine-voiced Matthew Cavendish) is even called Ernie.
Nicely animated backdrops create a fairytale feel, but if you have very little kids, be warned – this is a talky show. From the plot-heavy opening narration, to jokes about trade agreements, things sometimes slow right down, with the launch of the Good Fairy’s book ‘Inherently Good’ literally directed over much of the audience’s heads.
But the eminently hummable original music and lyrics are a hit, Caroline Deverill’s Evil Witch manages to be both slinky and farty, and Aimee Gray’s fact-quoting Princess and Craig Fletcher’s awkward Young King make for a touchingly quirky romance in this fun retelling of a classic tale.
And although she was too under the weather to appear in the performance I saw, the stage debut from the theatre’s resident dog Hazel is a tantalising panto promise. Every show needs its break-out star.
By Tom WIcker
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