(seen at the afternoon performance on 18th March 2017).
If the producers of
this year's Palladium panto are looking for a star cast, they need look no
further than Griff Rhys Jones, Lee Mack, Mathew Horne, Katy Wix, Ryan Gage, Andi
Osho, Saikat Ahamed, Michael Webber, Simon Holmes and Ellie White. This team
extract all the panto they can from Sean Foley's adaptation, and almost manage
to breath life into a total corpse of an afternoon.
Make no mistake, what they
have to work with isn't very much. Long segments are becalmed, there's a
horrible 1970s "let's have a joke about the ethnic" stunt - twice - and an
excruciating, inexplicable "curtain call" just when the monkey hoped to escape.
The barest bones of the story are there, and underneath the panto dames the
clever caricature characters sometimes emerge, but it's not often.
Rhys Jones has little to really say, but plenty of opportunity to say it. The
result is running out of material around 40 minutes before the play runs out of
juice. Fitfully funny rants at the audience fall flat without a killer punchline,
but he's amiable enough. Thanks to improvisational skills (and a fair bit of
"false corpsing") Lee Mack fairs rather better thanks to an ability to go
Strong performances from ambitious hooker Andi Osho (Frosine) and sidekick
Marianne (Ellie White), and a good anchor from Matthew Horne (Valere) keeps
things almost on track, but ultimately, there's little satisfaction, even as the
cast spoof their own resolution.
As a hymn to the dangers of parsimony, this lacks pace rather than cash. Worth
catching for the cast (and, if on the front row, don't catch...) but that's
about it. Disappointing, feels the monkey.