Wiltshire Creative has had a fabulous run of pantomimes in recent years, but this one doesn’t quite rank alongside them. It’s difficult to pinpoint why.
The script is by the prolific Andrew Pollard, now notching up his eighth for Salisbury Playhouse, and designer James Button’s glitter-encrusted sets are as gorgeous as ever. Nicky Griffiths engineers some nifty choreography and there is enough lighting on and around the stage to drain the national grid. Gareth Machin’s production is lively, colourful, swift-footed and has much to recommend it.
And yet…. panto plots are slight, but this one doesn’t gel: there’s no real role for the dame, no otherworldly component – Herne the Hunter is a very marginal presence – to sprinkle magic, and no equivalent of a silly Billy to be the children’s friend. It was disappointingly light on audience participation and the slop scene is a lacklustre affair.
Adrian Grove shows great potential in his debut as dame, with some good gags, easy audience rapport and a man-hungry twinkle in the eye, and Greg Barnett laps up the boos as a preening, posturing Sheriff.
The rock anthems in the musical score suit the voice of X-Factor finalist and Bat Out Of Hell alumnus Giovanni Spano’s Robin. His opening number is a corker and he certainly does his best to get the audience on side as part of his merry band of men.