WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHERE? London Palladium RUNTIME: 180 minutes (including a 20-minute interval)
WHEN? 28/12, runs to 12/1/20
We’ve seen the Palladium pantomime in each of the last four years since it returned to this iconic venue after a break of more than three decades.
- Read on for reasons including how Clary gently encourages O’Grady to take part again next year
We’re here because we love pantomime (Greenwich Theatre‘s being our favourite) and because Julian Clary is probably the art’s most satisfying and entertaining proponent.
But the biggest surprise of this show is that it’s circus-themed (the lack of a Goldilocks narrative is a running joke) and the appearance of stunt motorcycle riders inside a tiny, see-through globe is genuinely amazing.
We’re Googling it now and can see Peter Pavlov and The Globe Of Speed took part in Britain’s Got Talent and the variety element of this show (there is a magician with doves and acrobatic roller skaters) fits it well.
Looking back on our 2016 review it’s amazing how much more spectacular, lavish and unwieldy Clary’s costumes have become. We weren’t quite feeling the rapport between him and O’Grady then but here they work well together and Clary’s gentle suggestion that O’Grady join him again on this stage in 2020 is cute.
We’ve concentrated a lot in our 2017 and 2018 reviews on how much we enjoy Clary’s saucy banter and it’s still our main reason for returning. We saw him at this venue on his recent Born To Mince tour and, while occasionally hilarious, his mischievous glint can’t help but be buffed by the pantomime trappings and star-studded cast.
Clary’s playing The Ringmaster here and the crack is perhaps obvious: ‘That Michael Ball’s been sniffing around my ring for years’ but no less funny: ‘My Dick won an Olivier, let’s see what my ring can pick up.’ We laughed out loud when he complained that he’d been under a ‘big top’ for hours.
The more we see of panto regular ventriloquist Paul Zerdin, the more we appreciate him. (Sample joke: ‘What do you call a Spanish man on a nudist beach? Señor Willy)
Matt Baker throws himself into the action gamely, displaying both a gymnast’s physique and flexibility as he flick-flacks across the stage. Nigel Havers remains willing to send himself up and we would have liked to see a little more of mamma bear Janine Duvitski.
Want to join the fun next year? We’ll be back for more Clary and we hope his persuasion of O’Grady (pictured above) is successful. It’s a rare treat to see such comedy giants interacting with such side-splitting brilliance.