The Comicals of Narna

Date 1st April 2022
Society Benenden Players
Venue Benenden Village Hall
Type of Production Pantomime
Director Bev Beveridge
Musical Director Graham Beveridge
Choreographer Lucy Freeman
Written By Bev Beveridge

Report

Author: Anne Lawson

Another story created by Bev with upbeat live music led by Graham and his five piece band, beautifully constructed magical sets, dazzling costumes after such a long difficult wait ‘The Comicals of Narna’ was brought to life.  Very good to see the integration of  juniors into cameo roles and dancing troupe, and to see them interact with the audience whilst selling raffles and programmes in character costume. On opening, housekeeping rules were announced by the prickly Parish Councillor – actually Paul Woolwich.

With all the ingredients of goodies and baddies, spells and potions, audience participation, sing along, inuendo in buckets, animal characters, love, weddings then an ‘ah’ happy ending. Two schoolboys Cuthbert & Horace head to Ophelia Bun’s sweet shop and persuade shop manager Wilf to let them go down in the cellar for Spangles, where there’s a secret door which leads them to the mysterious frozen kingdom of Narna. Fearing for their safety, Wilf and Ophelia follow. The boys meet half humans Mrs Poody Doodle and her daughters, whilst Wilf and Ophelia meet wicked child hater Baron Chilly, his wife and beautiful spoilt daughter Icy Flo. Wilf refusing to leave the Baron casts a spell turning him into a dog! Poody tells of Dazzle a sunny kingdom and of Harry Eclair who may help transform the spell with his magical powers. Icy Flo wants to explore and find a man. Reluctantly father agrees providing she doesn’t go near Dazzle, so off she goes with faithful servant white suited Garry Croucher as Oddjob. All arrive to a great French welcome from Eclair, his mother and sister. Flo falls for Harry and Wilf the hero takes a magic potion to change the Baron’s mood to allow her to marry Harry. He relents, everyone’s happy, two weddings celebrated, snow melts, summer arrives and all live happily ever after! To aid us with the storyline  was a dapper smoking jacket clad Tony Ceeney as Narrator, comically assisted by his able Librarian, cheekily played by Scottish lilting Jemma MacDonald.

Scenery, backdrops and large props were created by carpenter Ken Anderson, Bev and helpers. A tempting sweet shop and counter, cellar door, glittering ice crystals, and colourful summer flowers, cheery side stage panels pleasing to the eye. The dedicated wardrobe team excelled with some great character creations. Great white spikey wig for Baron Chilly above an impressive military buttoned white tunic, jodhpurs plus high black boots and one high rise white hairdo plus tiara topped for the Baroness, white makeup to match, good eye makeup too. Harry certainly was flash and sparkled and Dame Buns sported the two-prong red curl look, lavish eyes with lashes to flutter. The young dancers always in simple but elegant outfits – wearing ponytails and loved the two cameo talking statues played by Alex and Jen Conmy.

Mics did not always work to full capacity with some speaker feedback. Perhaps a little more practice with handheld mics? But the key is projection and not being afraid to do so. Singing was challenging but good to hear harmony and there were some very strong vocals and enjoyable tempos. Pace was sometimes a little slow. Bev has an ability to bring alive her characters and the production was well cast. Comedy was abundant. I commend Ian Malaugh’s ability to deliver his ‘incorrect’ words with aplomb! Mark Barron Reid in his element, much inuendo, master of ab lib - a perfect Baron Chilly who certainly warmed. Joy Rowlands supported well as his less wicked regal Baroness. Tilly Milnes as Icy Flo was most elegant in a medieval styled white gown, pairing well (with a melting French accent)  Pierre Gautier a lyrical Flash ‘arry – An enjoyable harmonised duet. Bonny Greenacre was Mrs. Poody with her extraordinary doggy movements, looked amazing with huge white pom-pom hairdo - performed athletically and excellent hand movements – ably supported by Violet Aldridge and Evie Williams as her two little pink enfants Sue and Lou. What a character was Felicity the maid/Aussie Ice Cream Seller – an extraordinarily strong voiced young Olivia el Chamad, impressive ‘Ice Cream’ song. Good comic characterisation from Ian Aldridge and his doggy antics. Angela Patrick performed Lumina supported by Louise Clarke as Rose and Katelyn Malaugh as Daisy. The boys, young Joe Tyler and Oliver Morris worked well together as did Seth Williams and Archie Bunch as a couple of fast talking, cigar smoking bad boys. Good routines from the sparkling dancers headed by Lucy.  A huge team effort from stage, backstage crew, unseen heroes, not forgetting on the ball prompt Cathy Presgrave.