Jennifer Christie reviews Dick Whittington, this year’s pantomime offering from the Lyric Hammersmith.
24 November 2018
Celebrating 10 years of panto, the 2018 offering at Lyric Hammersmith is Dick Whittington. Written and directed by Jude Christian with co-writer Cariad Lloyd the show is full of quick quips and double entrendre, colour, light and movement. In short it’s a traditional pantomime to warm the hearts of Hammersmith and friends.
The strength in the cast is the three seasoned performers: Carl Mullaney as the dame, Sarah Fitzwarren; Jodie Jacobs, the effervescent goodie Bow Belles and Sarah-Louis Young playing the baddie, Queen Rat.
Mullaney sings and struts her stuff in fine style, constantly chatting to the audience and providing much of the traditional content of audience participation. There are many costume changes that manage to outdo each other in magnificence.
The design by Jean Chan uses extravagant colour and bold brushstrokes that sometimes hurt the eyes with their intensity. They are all entirely appropriate for the genre and there are moments of very satisfying visual effects.
Bow Belles wears a golden dress in the shape of a Christmas bell but Jacobs is never upstaged by her costume. Jacobs entertains with the soaring strength of her vocals and the simple charm of her character. Surprisingly there are many moments of partnership between Bow Belles’ and her nemesis, Queen Rat. When Jacobs and Young sing a duet the rafters of the theatre shake with the power of the two voices combined and the pair build a rapport between them.
Young is a stand out as Queen Rat, the glamorous rat who encourages the audience to hate her. Young’s performance is a finely timed comedic characterization.
Young Dick, played by Luke Latchman, is suitably wet behind the ears and slightly drippy. His cat is a young ball of street smarts and Keziah Joseph performs some great street dancing. Dick’s love interest Alice is played by newcomer Hollie Edwin.
Choreographer Lainie Baird uses a wide range of dance styles and the ensemble of Young Lyric players work tirelessly to shine in company numbers and in their individual moments in The Land Under the Sea. Giving young performers this opportunity is a valuable initiative of Lyric Hammersmith.
It was unfortunate at this performance that some of the business and comedy did not quite land in the right place but the energy and enthusiasm carried the night well.
Dick Whittington looks and sounds like million dollars and, using the attention and involvement of the young audience as a yardstick, along with the raucous knowing laughter of the adults, this show is a winner.