Thanks to Andy O’hare for this review.
Dick Whittington (script by Chris Bennion)
Norton Theatre Group|10-12 January 2019
Not sure whether it’s me getting older or more probably sillier but I did enjoy another seasonal offering of slapstick, gratuitous overacting, singalong ditties, dodgy in-jokes and the traditional audience involvement at Norton Theatre Group’s production of Dick Whittington. It’s one of the few pantos based on a real-life story, but in this case only providing a minimal framework for Chris Bennion’s wacky and often off-beat script – always a good sign!! The real-life Dick Whittington was from Gloucester, so we start at his mother’s decidedly dubious cafe in the docks with its one- dimensional murine-based menu. Sarah Floenza Barbarella Gertrude Whittington (Paul Jones) is very proud of her son (Rob Milner) who aims to impress his sweetheart Alice (Rebecca Smith) by becoming Mayor of London. Sadly his plans are foiled by the evil power-crazy King Rat (Vicky Blake) who concocts a flurry of fake news in the gutter press to smear the innocent Dick, plans an unsubtle ballot-box-stuffing campaign (sounds familiar?) and finally recruits her, sorry his Rat sidekicks Deano, Franky and Sammy (Chris Daly, Sarah Bennion and Yvonne Ralphs) to shanghai Dick and spirit him overseas aboard Captain McSplash’s (Carl Ives) leaky lugger.
Not looking promising at this time for our hero, but the tale departs even further from the traditional as the boat founders and the occupants are improbably washed up three miles from Las V9egas where naturally Elvis himself (Michael Fox) is the first person they meet! Dick shows his mettle by foiling the Rats’ attempt to rob The King’s casino with the help of his cat Shadow (Jake Hurley) – so Elvis rewards him with a wadge of greenbacks and the use of his yacht to return to London – bear with me on this…King Rat is persuaded to apologise for the printed slurs and a nail-biting election comes down to the casting vote of the Rat sidekicks who repay their boss’s ill-treatment and niggardly wages settlement by voting for Dick to be Lord Mayor – well he did give them cheese to eat after all…
Probably not therefore a tale for the historical purist – but a thoroughly chucklesome offering with
plenty of humour for the kids and not-so-young in equal measures
from the pen of Mr Moldiwarts himself!