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Dick Whittington at Milton Keynes Theatre

Published by: Alison Smith on 14th Dec 2016 | View all blogs by Alison Smith

Reviewed by Alison Smith

Poster for Dick Whittington from ATG.tickets

Pantomime is the perfect antidote to 2016’s negativity and MK Theatre’s Dick Whittington is at the forefront of frolics and forgetting. The narrative of the journey is only a device to explore a fantastic riot of silliness and fun and, of course, as in all treasured children’s tales, the goal is reached and goodness wins the day. The story is short and simple - a poor boy, Dick, makes his way to London and by overcoming adversity becomes a rich boy. 

Dick is played by Chris Jenkins. He is accompanied everywhere by his faithful cat. Tommy, (Sophie Hart) is a black and white bundle of rat-catching acrobatics.  Dick is handsome and catches the eye of Alice Fitzwarren – but the perfect pair are from opposite sides of the track. And who tries to derail their relationship,? None other than evil personified, the Queen Rat, portrayed excellently by Samantha Womack, and her gang of ratlets

Of course Queen Rat has adversaries in the form of Fairy Bowbells (Stacey Solomon), Sarah the Cook, the Pantomime Dame, (Kevin Brewis) and Idle Jack (Kev Orkian). Stacey Solomon is the weakest of the three; she tends to gabble at times and does not have such a stage presence as her fellow actors. Kevin Brewis is excellent, despite his hideous make-up and cumbersome costumes, his timing is superb, his voice strong.  But it is Kev Orkian who captures the audience from the outset and shines throughout the performance with his energy and antics; his puns are so bad they are funny. ‘A thief stole the garden gate; I didn’t say anything in case he took offence.’ Boom boom.  And throughout, for the adults, there is racy innuendo, centred mainly around the name Dick and sausages. The writer Eric Potts has cleverly interwoven local references into the script – Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard  - and topical matters – Holby City, Lush , Sharon Osborne, even Donald Trump. The song the Twelve Days of Christmas is a masterpiece of imagination and energy performed by Sarah the Cook, Idle Jack and Bosun Bill. It includes a bra that was made for three, 5 toilet rolls and water pistols fired gleefully and accurately into the audience.

The scenery is superb, vivid and sparkly in the court of the sultan and the Lord Mayor’s office, busy and crowded in the street and kitchen scene. One wonderful scene is the underwater tumbling and swimming of Dick and Tommy and, with 3D glasses, colourful coral with an array of sea -creatures , crabs, sharks , ,and even a huge octopus came to life, frighteningly close for some of the  small children.

The music, conducted by Uncle Barry, as Idle Jack referred to him, (Barry Robinson)  supervised by Steve Power, consists of a medley of well-known pop songs.  Notable is the song competition between Dick and Queen Rat when she sings in the style of Shirley Bassey, Kate Bush and he copies Tom Jones and Queen. Marvellous!

This is the best pantomime I have seen for many years. It is clever, risqué without being vulgar, full of music, laughter and energy. It is suitable for all ages. This will be a difficult panto to follow. 

Dick Whittington is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 15th January 

www.atgtickets.com

0844 871 7652

 

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