Dick Whittington

Director Jean Smy & Sarah Furniss

 

One of the great joys of pantomime is that whether it is performed in a large theatre with a massive budget or in a humble church hall where every penny counts it still offers the chance of fun.

 

Dunstable’s Square Drama Circle fall into the second of these categories and succeeded in pleasing their audience with a mixture of traditional pantomime and up to the minute puns.

 

In selecting Dick Whittington as their 2017 pantomime they gave themselves a series of problems to overcome, not least the number of set changes and scenes – which considering the restrictions of the stage they achieved very well. From a London Square through to the Sultan of Morocco’s Palace the sets were simple but effective and I was particularly impressed by the London Docks and the way the ship was incorporated into the scene.  Scene changes were undertaken effectively with good use of the front of tabs to cover.

 

Director Jean Smy and her assistant Sarah Furniss overall did a good job on such a small stage, but there were times when all the cast were in straight lines across the stage which should have been adjusted.  It is also off putting to the audience when you can see the cast waiting in the wings to make their entrance. I lost the action of the slapstick porthole scene, I assume there was water involved – but it could not be seen.  However the custard pie scene was played with energy – possibly a little over exuberance as it was the last night of the

show!

 

On stage the actors were lead by a suitably bumbling Alderman Fitzwarren who was played with an assured confidence by Malcolm Calvert, who did manage for the most part to avoid the attentions of the flirtatious Dame Greasy played enthusiastically by Bridget Calvert.

 

Sabina C Jackson gave us a feisty Queen Rat, but it was a shame her costume was just plain black, she had a lovely mask and little more adornment to the rest of her costume would have made her stand out much more.  Opposing the baddy we had Fairy Rosebud played by Tammy Calvert, resplendent in red with even an

accompanying rose wand - which was a nice touch.  Tammy also had time to double up as an ‘Old Woman’ which was very funny.

 

Chris Fletcher as Dick Whittington kept the story going and Victoria Goode gave us a demure  Alice Fitzwarren. Netty Batchelor as Ferdinand the Cat had some lovely actions and facial expressions as well as a very convincing cat like sound. Paul Freeman was a colourful but quite laid back Dame Serenity Suet and Donna Fletcher an imposing Idle Jack that the audience enjoyed shouting at.

 

Most of the comedy came from Captain Barnacle (Stephen Parry) and Shipshape (Lynne Morris).  From his beard to his gruff voice Stephen was a very convincing old sea dog and Lynne was full of energy and lots of facial expressions. Mike Ramsdale as the Sultan of Morocco added some extra humour late in the show, his costume was colourful but was let down by wearing red trainers.

 

A lot of the costumes fitted the period, others sadly didn’t – particularly in the Fitzwarrens Shop scene where some cast appeared in usual 2017 attire.  I would have liked to have seen more colour as there was a lot of brown on show.

 

Music accompaniment was with a single piano which worked for the size of the hall, the audience clapped along to the opening number and sang along to the finale, in between I particularly liked the Fairy and Queen Rat’s ‘Anything You Can Do’ and Dick’s ‘Amazed’ was sung with feeling, though I was confused as to why

‘A Policeman’s Lot’ did not have any accompanying music.

 

Technically the simple lighting worked and created the right mood.

 

In conclusion -  a little more attention to detail on costumes and the positioning of the cast would have improved the show. That said, the audience went home happy and still full of wonderful homemade cake from the interval.

 

Reviewed by Richard Lovelock

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