WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHERE? Greenwich Theatre RUN TIME: 2 hours 15 minutes (including interval)
WHEN?: 30/11 (press ticket) runs to 13/1/19
Broadway said an enthusiastic ‘Hello Dolly’ to Bette Midler this year and we feel exactly the same about Andrew Pollard who returns to the Greenwich Theatre pantomime in 2018 as Delores ‘Dolly’ Crusoe (centre above), mother of the titular hero.
- Read on for reasons including how Alice Cooper brought the house down at this press night
As the programme notes, pantomime productions of Robinson Crusoe are a rarity but it used to very much be part of the panto cannon with what is regarded as the first true English novel being published in 1719.
Pollard returns as dame to Greenwich Theatre for the 12th time and 14th as writer and we’ve remarked before about the magic ingredients he sprinkles on the form: he brings a smile to everyone’s face and there’s always a message never far from the surface.
This pantomime has been a fixture in our Christmas must-do list since 2015 and there are some familiar faces to enjoy in the cast.
Anthony Spargo (right above) was the dame last year and brings an irresistible mix of Johnny Depp in Pirates Of the Caribbean crossed with Mick Jagger and occasional bursts of Michael Caine/Harold Steptoe to his role. We’d love to see him play Frank’n’Furter in the Rocky Horror Show because we feel he can do larger-than-life better than anyone.
Lizzy Dive is also a familiar face and her Saucy Nancy has some of the funniest lines that will go over the heads of children but will entertain adults.
Elsewhere we enjoyed leading man Matt Jolly (Pollard observes at 1 point of him: ‘He’s shaking so much with all that acting’) and Arabella Rodrigo (below left) who makes the most of a trio of character roles, particularly a native Indian pivotal to the plot who is now chief without a tribe.
Our favourite moment comes about during a spot of cross dressing when Dolly wields a rainbow flag during How Deep Is Your Love when she thinks she has spotted Robinson canoodling with a fellow sailor (it’s his female love interest with a false moustache).
For the grown-ups there’s even satire with a familiar character known as the Terrible Trump and a rhyming of ‘cruise ship entertainer’ and ‘Remainer’ at the show’s close.
It’s a show for all the family of course and 1 of the biggest laughs at press night was when Dolly read out the list of birthdays of those present. She uttered the name ‘Alice Cooper’ in disbelief only to be a greeted by a waving young girl standing on her seat with joy across her face.
We’re very much looking forward to Julian Clary’s return to panto in Snow White at the Palladium next week but, much like our hero, sometimes you have to go on an adventure to appreciate what you have at home. And, given that we live just across the park in Blackheath, we couldn’t wish for a funnier and more clever panto on our doorsteps.
Dolly Crusoe and Andrew Pollard we salute you and hope you never leave us. We’re back for a (paying) return visit to Robinson Crusoe over the festive season (yes, we’d recommend it that highly) – and we can’t wait.