Master of ceremonies Marc Graham arrives on stage astride an inflatable shark at the start of Middle Child’s irreverent Christmas show. Bantering with the audience, he picks out a chap as a potential husband-to-be, while once again proving how good he is at pantomime.
Graham plays Pattie Breadcake, an ego-tripping dame with designs to be Queen of the Humber. He hectors his fellow cast members, deadpans his way through fluffed cues and executes a mean guitar solo during the finale.
Emma Thornett plays Ursula, the production’s wonderfully boo-able evil queen. She tells us she’s as “bad as Boris”, while stroking a fluffy purple sea creature on her lap. The scenes between them are the highlights of the show.
This Hull-set take on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale impresses both with its performances and inventiveness. Two pieces of painted wood, tacked together at an angle, provides the prow of a boat. The budget might be low but the gag-count is high. Paul Smith’s script is packed with real wit – and an abundance of fish puns. His production is backed by a live band – led by composer James Frewer, with cast members rotating on instruments including drums, bass and lead guitar – and it all feels, as ever, as much a party as a panto.