WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHEN?: Saturday 20 November, opens Friday 26 November and booking to 2 January 2022
RUNTIME: 130 minutes (including 20-minute interval)
The best bit of so many highlights in this hilarious, family-friendly pantomime is when 1 character movingly and delicately rebuffs the romantic advances of another to Dionne Warwick’s That’s What Friends Are For and, in a moment worthy of the very best of Morecambe and Wise, Pollard’s Queen Of Hearts breaks the spell with an atrocious harmonica solo in the instrumental break.
- Read on for reasons including how Pollard and the villain played by Anthony Spargo have great chemistry
Writing in the programme, artistic director James Haddrell and executive director Simon Francis say: ‘It’s been 2 years since we last presented a pantomime at Greenwich Theatre, and over 20 years since we last missed out on a festive show at the theatre.
‘Having had a long time to think about the best way to return to Panto, we were all agreed in wanting to present something unusual, something very new and at the same time something that has the whole history and heritage of pantomime at its heart.’
Star and author Pollard writes: ‘Our story has themes of finding good in people, being resilient in the face of disaster and spreading love. Things that seem rather pertinent now.’
It’s Pollard’s Queen we’re here to see and he doesn’t let us down with his saucy quips including passing his rod over the men in the audience with a ‘pash-o-meter’ to see how passionate they are and inserting the line: ‘A little bit of Roger all night long’ into hit Mambo Number 5.
The plot sees Anthony Spargo’s villainous King Of Clubs (pictured above), part Rik Mayall and part Frank Spencer, attempt to steal the Queen’s tart recipe to placate his subjects tiring of his expensive indulgences. It’s genuinelly thrilling to hear his version of Eurovision winners’ Maneskin’s I Wanna Be Your Slave as his theme tune.
Special mention to Gibsa Bah’s Jack who is making his professional debut and brings a gigantic heart, no pun intended, to the role of the Queen’s son, Jack – The Knave Of Hearts.
Sample joke: ‘Why did the baker get messy hands? Because he kneaded a poo.’
We love how the 3-strong band are now featured on the stage and ‘Uncle’ Steve Marwick makes for a fantastic deadpan foil as he is drawn into the action.
Myla Carmen as the Princess of Diamonds and Emma Jay Thomas as the Prince of Spades have an unlikely romance but are at their best when forming part of the team undertaking the heist to steal back the Queen’s stolen tart recipe from the King Of Clubs.
Pollard’s mix of the current (‘Covid denier?’ is his response to a cast member’s assertion that: ‘We were right about him.’) and saucy yet apt baking references (‘I need it to dribble around the rim of my tarts.’) had us splitting our sides.
The card-related theme means the show climaxes with a chilling yet funny take on Bruce Forsyth’s Play Your Cards Right with Spargo spot on as Brucie with dated ‘OK dollies do your dealing’ schtick and even a reference to his former Strictly presenter Tess Daly.
In summary, this may be a lesser known pantomime but it is very much in the superior standard Pollard has brought to this venue for 15 years. Covid denied us the opportunity to see this beloved pantomime last Christmas so don’t miss your chance to do so this year. We absolutely loved it and you will too.
- Pictures via Facebook courtesy Greenwich Theatre Tickets
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