The rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas at the end of this year’s Churchill Theatre panto is one of the funniest sequences not just in this show, but maybe of any panto over the last few years.
But otherwise this Qdos production is a real mixed bag. Oliver Tompsett as Prince Benedict is a real triple threat. He’s given plenty to do and does it well. He’s far from insipid. Young actor Naomi Cowe partners him sweetly and there is some pretty nifty ensemble dancing throughout. The costumes themed in orange and gold are attractive and Jessie Wallace makes a striking Queen Lucretia with her range of funny voices and strong stage presence. And the transformation scene (borrowed from Macbeth) is a tour de force.
On the other hand, it makes the problematic choice of casting full-size actors shuffling about on their knees as the dwarfs and although Jason Sutton and Pete Firman have their moments as the Dame and Muddles, their timing is so poor they often throw away jokes by rushing. The pun sequence, on film titles, falls completely flat. There are also far too many fart jokes which even the children don’t seem to find funny. These flaws end up undermining the production. Good as Wallace is, she can’t rescue it.