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King Tut – A Pyramid Panto review at King’s Head Theatre, London – ‘regenerates the panto canon’

Alys Roberts (King Tut) in King Tut a Pyramid Panto Photo: William Knight Alys Roberts (King Tut) in King Tut a Pyramid Panto. Photo: William Knight
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This may be Charles Court Opera’s 11th pantomime in Islington, but rather than re-run familiar titles the company looks for inspiration elsewhere. Ancient Egypt proves a fertile source of material, as King Tut – A Pyramid Panto lampoons Howard Carter’s 1922 archaeological expedition, here financed by the wicked Lord Conniving.

There may be no dame, but every other panto box is ticked including cross-dressing, talking animals, dreadful puns and an utterly bonkers plot. Author John Savournin’s script introduces time travel, sending Carter and the gang back to Tutankhamun’s reign. Here we meet Alys Roberts’ distinctly Welsh boyo, a King of the Valleys and his faithful sidekick Clive the Camel.

Designer Sean Turner’s set is a rhapsody of gold lamé with hieroglyph accents but the strongest influence in this production is David Eaton’s score. It may be an opera company but Eaton puts some classically-trained voices through their paces with flamboyant arrangements of everything from the Spice Girls to Gwen Stefani.

Amid the mild double entendres there’s room for romance with Francesca Fenech’s resourceful Evelyn taking control of her relationship with Matt R J Ward’s nervously flatulent Carter. Throw a familiar game-show host mummy into the mix and once again, Charles Court Opera proves that panto need not be Grimm to succeed.

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Charles Court Opera successfully regenerates the pantomime canon without sacrificing its traditions