21st January 2018
Plumpton Green Village Hall
Nancy Doyle and Charlie Wycherley
Author: Dee Sharpe
A dreary rain soaked Sunday in January was lit with the sunshine and jollity of this hilarious pantomime. Housekeeping instructions ended with ‘audience participation is compulsory – oh yes it is!’ The audience obeyed throughout with gusto.
This was a very funny, slightly bonkers pantomime; action packed and overflowing with fun, including local, topical jokes generating an ongoing exuberance from the highly tickled audience.
Carol Symes as evil Morgan Le Fay was so skilled at being the one the audience love to hate, she received unsought boos from over enthusiastic children, managing to quiet them with her cunning plans.
Marianne Cole as Valerin the Vicious was like a dastardly Charlie Chaplin. Her body language and expressions created a unique, hilarious, pocket villain. Valerin’s interactions with fusspot of a Mum played by Di Barksfield, contrasted beautifully with his rascally character. Di typified an overprotective Mum with a warm scarf for Valerin to wear and a warm hug to comfort him as he failed miserably at most things, including marrying Guinevere.
Laughalot the jester played by Paul Kluge, was a hugely funny and popular character who built a vibrant rapport with the audience. They responded enthusiastically with ‘be bold, be brave’ to transform him from scaredy-cat to a lion-heart with a cavalier attitude and cheesy taste in chat up lines. Connie (Duncan Taylor Jones) was also much loved. With an enormous personality (and bottom to match,) she delivered stand up comedy, sang with a powerful melodious voice and made people weep with laughter at her rendition of ‘All About That Bass.’
Nancy Doyle, perfectly cast as the charming lovelorn Prince Arthur wooing Giunevere (Hannah Collins) who enriched scenes with her smile and beautiful voice. Emma Symes as Nell had an equally lovely voice and these two performed a wonderful duet.
David Rankin’s stately and commanding King Uther was enhanced by his rich resonant speaking voice. In contrast, Merlin, superbly played by Charlie Wycherley, was like a demented Dumbledore, absent minded and useless at appearing in a flash which had everyone giggling. There was a wizardly laboratory scene with glowing potions, twinkling lights and a pair of talking heads – NIMBY and Sir Peter played effectively by Naomi Lindfield and Dan Russell. Younger Merlins were cleverly played by Derrick and Jack Taylor and Peter Jones as the drunken Bishop was worryingly believable!
Cute favourite, Teddy (Caroline Sutton) communicated charmingly with facial expressions and body language and a troupe of bears added a whimsical touch. Sarah Purdey played a knight called Marlon, partnered by the invisible Knight who was highlighted in all his nothingness by a spotlight! The tap dancing routine which she performed with her invisible partner was inspired.
The talented musicians deserve a mention for the music in this wonderful show. Songs included I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) a singing and dancing delight which gave a jubilant ending to the first half and Justin Timberlake’s ‘Sunshine in my pocket’, the entire ensemble ending the show with a joyous flourish.
The scenes, set changes and costumes were exciting and inventive with a wonderful outdoor and indoor castle, woodland scene with live trees and a Scooby Doo style creepy cottage with a disappearing bed, terrifying haunted clock (Dan Russell) and live portrait. The ghost dance to ‘When you’re Strange’ was another comic frolic. Everyone from key players to the dancers, chorus, sisterhood, knights and bears blended fabulously to make a knickerbockerglory of a pantomime.