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Dick Whittington and His Cat review at Wilton’s Music Hall, London – ‘a total joy’

A scene from Dick Whittington and His Cat at Wilton's Music Hall. Photo: Steve Ullathorne

In the century and a half since Wilton’s Music Hall staged its first concerts and performances, there has never been a single pantomime. So this year’s Dick Whittington, as well as being an absolute and total joy, is also something of a gala event.

Written and Damed by the eternal Roy Hudd, this is a panto so trad it makes Hackney look modish. Crap puns take precedence over double entendres, music hall standards bellow louder than recent chart hits, and there’s such an air of warmth over everything that even occasional sound issues and the venue’s notoriously tricky acoustics can’t dampen the glee.

Hudd is a gloriously gruff and truculent Dame, but Ian Parkin is every bit as good as a host of starched pedants, Josh Tevendale is the perfect square-jawed hero and Simon Burbage channels Dick, Dom and their entire Bungalow as hapless Idle Jack.

It’s Gareth Davies’ Ronaldo Ratface that takes it, however, from his Rat Out of Hell opening to his oozing villainous voice, he earns every boo and hiss that flies his way. Wilton’s may be a newcomer on the London panto scene, but despite strong showings from Hackney and the Lyric, for rough, ready, rabble-rousing brilliance, there’s a serious new contender in town.

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A little rough around the edges, but it’s hard to imagine a more joyful, traditional cascade of panto fun