The guard has changed at the Lyric panto, west London's smart-arse alternative to Hackney’s cosy seasonal leviathan. The superb Tom Wells (who has a major hit over at the Bush right now with ‘Jumpers for Goalposts’) has taken over as writer, with longtime associate director Dan Herd stepping up to the top job. And it's quite possibly better than ever.
Show regular Steven Webb is a flashbang of charisma as wannabe florist Sprout, while Nigel Richards swishes and swooshes his way through a highlight performance as rent collector Mr Fleshcreep. Howard Ward's dame is a shade too pallid, and his tussle with a horrifying pantomime cow too restrained, but Herd's rollicking direction keeps on coming on.
Wells's script is the silver bullet, skewering more pop-culture references than a ‘Family Guy’ box-set, while managing a surprisingly sweet love story and some subtle LGBTwists.
There's a bit that sees a roomful of eight-year olds shout 'it's Bonnie Tyler' to distract the villain, and then they mistake Bonnie Tyler for a giant goose – because they're eight years old and don't know who the hell Bonnie Tyler is. That's ludicrous. And brilliant. Your move, Hackney.
By Stewart Pringle
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Average User Rating
3.5 / 5
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Steven Webb is the out-and-out star of this show. Utterly in the moment, three-dimensional and emitting infectious enjoyment. Rochelle Rose is terrible as Jack. Underpowered, amateur. Most audience discussion around us at the interval revolved around that - some even wondering if Steven Webb had been asked to mentor her all the way through as she was so lame without him. Joshua Tonks and Nigel Richards, playing Jill and Fleshcreep respectively, shone too. As a production, its neat storyline was staged with second-rate choreography and general physical direction, but all in all was 'OK' and fairly endearing. Pantos need to be huge - full of huge, confident performers, excellent slapstick, stunning dance routines and singing abilities that are beyond the capabilities of mere mortals.