This year’s Christmas offering from the Theatre Royal Stratford East is a joy-filled mash-up of Dick Whittington and The Pied Piper, with loads of Londoncentric gags and some brilliant design work thrown in for good measure.
David Watson and Robert Hyman’s take on the story opens with the young Dick (Sèverine Howell-Meri) stuck in far flung Romford, where the local landmarks are a duck pond and a ‘West Field’ filled with gigantic turnips. Led by dreams of double decaf lattes, he sets out to the big smoke.
Of a perky and universally charming cast, Vedi Roy makes a particularly good dame as Lady Lush, owner of an ice cream parlour that bears a worrying resemblance to Mrs Lovett’s pie shop in Sweeney Todd. Likewise, Harry Jardine as a rap star cat who wants to be a dog, is a stand-out performer.
One of the production’s biggest assets is the delectable set and costume design by Lily Arnold. Roy’s wafer-print tights and Mr Whippy hair are consistently amusing, and his ‘Half Price Mojito’ dress is an early contender for dame outfit of the season.
The musical numbers are all very well performed and the lyrics are witty – although not instantly memorable. Above all, the care and attention lent to the whole endeavour pays off. This isn’t a ramshackle panto, but it maintains local charm – from the enchanted Waltham Forest to the cursed Leyton Stone – alongside the slickness.