Knight Fever

Date 11th February 2024
Society Brindle St James Players
Venue St. Joseph's Parish Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Katie Hardman
Musical Director Lyndsey Wilson
Choreographer Sally Leech
Producer Debbie Howard
Written By Lazy Bee Scripts

Report

Author: Dawn-Marie Woodcock

Brindle St Joseph’s parish hall, home to the Brindle Players, was packed to the rafters as the audience sat in anticipation of the show starting. The programme, created in the style of a medieval newspaper was both informative and amusing, some great little jokes hidden amongst the articles had the audience giggling before the curtain had even risen.

The show opened with a blaze of colour as Brindle Players brought us Knight Fever, a medieval Pantomime, set in the court of King Arthur. With a clever script, many silly japes, some great singing, and lavish costumes, the cast and crew really did give their audience a show to remember.

Georgia Seddon played the lead, Justin Thyme, a poor stable hand who dreams of becoming a knight. Georgia was clearly comfortable in her role. She gave a bright, upbeat performance, her voice clear and confident with some lovely singing. As her character navigated the storyline, trying to become a knight, rescuing the princess, and dealing with the inevitable panto chaos, Georgia made the audience laugh and cheer loudly from begging to end of the show.

Aiding Justin, on his quest to become a knight, was Lester the Jester, played by Jess Howard. An incompetent court Jester who also dreams of becoming a knight, Jess was funny, never missing a comedic beat, energetic and a favourite with the children. I really liked Jess’ costume, the colours popped and added to the exuberance of her character.

Danny Boon took on the role of Dame Doris Dumpling, in his first every Dame role. The overbearing chaperone and ‘official interpreter’ to the Princess. On the kidnapping of the Princess, Dame Doris joined Justin and Lester on their quest. I enjoyed the way Danny played his Dame; his comedy timing was perfect, and he was everything you expect of a pantomime Dame. Full of life and outrageously silly, his facial expressions and physical reactions caused lots of laughter throughout the audience.

Kayleigh Irwine played Princess Anna. Poor Princess Anna was kidnapped by the evil Black Knight and his cohort Chardonnay La Fay, upon her arrival at King Arthurs Court. Kayleigh’s princess was a strong, independent woman, not easily intimidated. Played with a sweet demeanour and a twinkle in her eye, Kayleigh gave us a princess of substance. Kayleigh’s solo song was delivered tenderly and with emotion.

Every pantomime needs an evil character and The Black Knight, played by Roger Brown, was as evil as they come. Every inch of Rogers character screamed bad guy. From his armour laden stance to his malicious grimace, enhanced with great makeup, it was obvious Roger had really thought about his character’s presentation. The audience booed and shouted enthusiastically whenever The Black Knight appeared, a wonderful performance by Roger.

Chardonnay La Fay, the hapless minion to the Black Knight, was played by Joyce Foster. La Fay just wants to sing and entertain but is instead the indentured sorcerer to the dark side. Convincing Lester the Jester to steal Merlin’s magical staff, La Fay unleashed a light and sound storm upon both cast and audience. Joyce timed her moves to perfection with the flashes and bangs, whilst standing just ahead of the audience, this looked and sounded impressive, making the audience gasp, and getting a great reaction from the children in the audience. We only heard a small amount of singing from Joyce before her character was silenced by the Black Knight but from what I could hear, Joyce has a strong voice waiting to be heard. A solid delivery from Joyce with a few cheeky comedy moments thrown in. I did like the nod to steam punk in her costume, making her stand out from the other ladies in court.

Lewis Warner-Jones gave the audience a commanding King Arthur. With stirring speeches of bravery, many tongue twisting sentences, and a good deal of bravado he led his brave knights upon their quest to rescue the princess. I did like Lewis’ interpretation of King Arthur, strong, noble, and completely obsessed with chivalry and all things knightly. A strong performance from Lewis with a great singing voice solidifying his performance.

Eve Killingbeck played Queen Guinevere. I enjoyed Eves’ portrayal immensely. Her easy manner when dealing with Arthur and his epic questing was fun and light-hearted, ditzy but never to be underestimated. More comfortable watching ‘real housewives’ than jousting, Eve’s portrayal was a pleasure to watch.

Trying to find his magic staff in the middle of all the mayhem was Merlin. Xavier Khan took on this role. With strong diction ringing clear and loud despite the huge beard. Xavier had a few prominent singing moments, I would have liked to hear a little more, as again, I think he is a star waiting to shine.

Director Katie Hardman stepped into the role of the Lady of the Lake, or as Dame Doris called her, the Tart of the Tub, much to the amusement of the audience. I thought her rolling onto the stage in a small tin bath was inspired. I loved the way the bath had been made to look soapy. Katie looked resplendent in her outfit, complete with rubber duck earrings and magic bath sponge. Confident and clear, Katie certainly made the audience laugh, and looked great whilst doing it.

Eve Preston took up the mantle of King Arthur’s Squire, a small role but one which Eve took and ran with. Some clear diction and a great deal of prop carrying for Eve, a good performance all round.

One of the biggest laughs on the night came with the arrival of the dragon. The audience heard a fearsome roar and then Millie Marshall stepped out into stage in her dragon outfit. Covered head to toe in a fabulous costume complete with huge dragon head worked very well and had the audience in stitches.

The small but no less significant role of The Phantom was played by Libby Nelmes, who appeared in the forest scene. Libby had the children shouting ‘its behind you’ with enthusiasm. A great cameo role from Libby.

I really enjoyed the four Knights of King Arthur, played by Sally Leech, Grace Stead, Lyndsey Wilson, and Debbie Howard, forever questing, bold and heroic and downright silly, between them they had some great comic moments. It was obvious that these four ladies had a natural camaraderie, they moved in unison and looked like they were having a good time throughout. I liked the opening number when the Knights all sang together, some great singing.

The show had many dance routines, giving the chorus ample opportunity to shine. They were slick and together, energetic, and joyful. The chorus/dancers came out into the audience giving more room to manoeuvre on stage, a tactic that worked well as the audience could see the energy up close. Choreographic coordinator Sally Leech had obviously worked hard on the chorus numbers, resulting in dance routines that were well-oiled and coordinated.

The set was visually striking, the castle scenes looked bright and colourful, very medieval. Scene changes were slick and unobtrusive. Lighting was in keeping with the scenes played out, I particularly enjoyed the colours used to pick out the knights in their introductory song, and the effects used when La Fay cast her wicked spell. The sound was bob on, no gremlins, you could hear everything with no problem at all.

The Musical Director Lyndsey Wilson and Assistant Musical Director Georgia Seddon, delivered  a set of songs, which whilst each song in the show was instantly recognisable, had all been re-crafted by the Production Team, to fit the lyrics with the scenes of the pantomime, this worked very well. A clever way to move scenes along whilst adding to the narrative of the show.

A favourite of mine was a particularly good acapella, performed by Justin Thyme, Lester the Jester and Dame Doris Dumpling, a reworking of Talking Heads, Road to Nowhere. This sounded great, the close harmony between the three was lovely. When the chorus joined in and the company began to dance, it just worked.

This was a well thought out production, director Katie Hardman and Assistant Director Jess Howard, along with the cast and crew worked diligently to provide a lively, vivacious family pantomime and the audience appreciated every moment of it. I would like to thank the entire company for inviting me to review Knight Fever, I received a very warm welcome and I look forward to seeing many more productions from Brindle Players.