It seems pantomime is alive and thriving in these recessionary times, and Oxford Playhouse’s traditional offering is a real heart-warmer this year. There are some satirical barbs - this Dick Whittington rides the zeitgeist as all good pantos should - but all the best and most classic elements are intact and delivered with relish.
The villain King Rat (Reuben Kaye) and good fairy godmother (Deborah Crowe) are played with more chutzpah than their counterparts of recent years, helped by some nice stage effects, while Dick (Ashley Emerson) and Alice (Laurie Scarth) cut a charismatic dash through the vibrant London streets. The stars of the show, though, are Tori Moone as Dick’s cat Tigerbilly, and Leon Craig as Dame Doris Donut. Moone is effortlessly supple in her role, stalking the stage and performing impressive gymnastic feats. She may well be the kids’ favourite but most of the adult laughs are down to Craig, whose dame is prone to terrible jokes and saucy innuendo, and has great fun with the many costume changes.
The musical numbers zip along too, particularly a hilarious rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, which descends into near-anarchy of the best kind. With nods to West Side Story, Freddie Mercury and PSY, there really is something for everybody here.