Sinbad's Quest written by Beverley Beveridge

Date 1st February 2020
Society Benenden Players
Venue Benenden Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Beverley Beveridge
Musical Director Graham Beveridge
Choreographer Fiona Boorman

Report

Author: Anne Lawson

Adding to Bev’s portfolio  Sinbad is to man-up at age 32, shake off his mother’s apron strings and seek out his notorious father Jack Chisla. Assisted by pals and nautical mates he sets sail encountering a storm, sinking, an underwater experience, crazy Queen Heebee and giggly Jeebees, Cyclops in his cave, with monkey companion and beautiful Princess Vera - a love that he’s dreamed of, with Sultan father trying to marry her off to sleazebag Chisla. After this exotic adventure, the precious crystal restored to its rightful owner, good naturally overcomes evil, Rosy Bap finds her wayward husband, Sinbad and Vera true love, reporters their story, Mabel her Cid, and all’s well that ends well.

Wicked jokes galore, encouraged asides and much laughter. Bev interwove, with Graham’s expertise, appropriate musical pieces for a dream sequence, rock, rap, showing off a troupe of nimble dancers, romance, calypso, Hokey Cokey, a ‘full of eastern promise’ dance of the seven veils and probably more, the live band leading the way.

Stunning sets - Arabian Nights' theme plus huge sabre on the attractive poster from Amelia Thomas. A large painted panel appeared at the front of the hall, one on the bar wall too - as were two side panels attached either side of the stage.  Set construction and painting was certainly of a high standard, a task taken on by a large team. Vibrant colours showed locations of Sinbad’s home, buildings of the region. palm trees, sun, sand, dunes and blue skies, a sumptuous Sultan’s Palace, aboard ship, under the ocean, and of course Cyclops’s Cave. Props were well presented with a comedy offering of the amazing Kebab cart, pushed by Mustafa Fry-up namely Olly Price inflating his prices,  snake charmer,  palm waver also comic.  Special effects, bubbles, storms, farts, snores. added to  ‘noises off’ from Matt Harris assisted by Jane Ellis, Charlotte Bathew and Katelyn Malaugh. Mikes were a slight problem early on when lines came across as muffled, sometimes directional – so projection, something sometimes forgotten was key. On lighting were Steve Boorman assisted by Culzean Kennedy creating good visual effects, using two brand new LED spots in addition to the other four recently installed, with Stephen Clarke handling this side.

Sewing machine wiz Dee Shelley skilfully stitched matching sets of costumes for the dancers who looked immaculate, in red, white and blue, shimmer of the underwater section, floaty pink skirts, see-through umbrellas, coloured lights. Together with Ruth Clarke’s vision plus assistance of Steve Boorman the cast were ablaze with colour, complete with good accessories and footwear. The use of ‘folly foam’ made incredible hair creations for Dame Rosy Bap - Pierre Gautier - perfecting his look with fluttering eyelashes. Frocks a patchwork of colour - his Dame character well portrayed.

Reporters Lucy Freeman and Laura Pengelly introduced the story to their Editor who gave in at the end, joined the crazy characters becoming a pantomime unicorn and a Dame! Tilly Milnes took the glamourous role of Princess Vera looking most attractive in her turquoise and red harem style costumes with flowing veils and superb headdress. ‘Tashed Sinbad wore typical  baggy pants plus embroidered top, bearing bare legs and torso well and donning traditional red fez. These two performers complimented each other and sang a lovely duet – (Sinbad from the balcony). Ian Malaugh carried the character of  Sultan with authority, maintaining a difficult script of deliberately incorrect words – very amusing resplendent in heavily embroidered gold with ‘cushion’ headdress encrusted with pearls.  Fun, quite bizarre outfits were created for Queen Heebee, again interesting language to perform by Bonny Sullivan accompanied by her little Jeebees - delightfully played. Fur tunic, bare legs with enormous yellow feet complete with red toenails and hair tufts plus a furry headpiece and of course one large central eye – brilliantly funny, a great camp performance by Grant Matthews as Cyclops. Neville and Ali Pali  - Seth Williams and Jacob Santer were full of energy, as were the three little sailors in smart blue and white uniforms with their tankards, the trio of lady pirates, great accents,  in red and black – laced boots and what a great harmonised sea shanty. Dressed as a real spiv Chisla, white shoes an’ all, took us up the A13 to Souff’end and rocked us -  played naughtily by Mark Barron-Reid.  More character roles than I can mention were played out with great enthusiasm.  Bev showed her versatility once more, steering the ship aided by Fiona who devised the movement.