BWW Reviews: DICK!, Leicester Square Theatre, December 1 2012
As sure as the annual John Lewis advert's pulling at the heartstrings, when the Christmas lights go up, the tone in theatres goes down. And the tone is lowered even further in the sub-genre known as the adult panto. But nobody is expecting Noel Coward come December.
Dick! (at the Leicester Square Theatre until 20 January) is loosely (and I mean loosely) based on the traditional panto, Dick Whittington, but the story is really only a jumping off point for gags, songs, audience participation, double entendres and (this being adult panto) single entendres too. Sure it's a bit sweary, sure it's even a bit puerile, but everyone who buys a ticket knows the deal and everyone joins in with great gusto.
The cast make or break a panto by forgetting everything (well, almost everything) they learned at stage school and embracing er... Dick. Stuart Saint's racy and pacy script leaves plenty of room for the actors to go through their turns and they sure do. Miss Dusty O (Sofonda Cox - yep, it's that kind of show) has great fun as a disdainful Dame cattily ad-libbing with the audience. Rae Brogan (Alice) and Gary Albert Hughes (Dick) enjoy their chastity-belted / sex-mad couple and Laura Hyde (Fairy Bell-End) and Lucyelle Cliffe (Queen Runt) make a winning helper and villain. Best of all is Nathaniel Tapley as Dave the Cat - all smoking jacket and martini glass, channeling John Sessions' tongue-in-cheek sense of superior detachment.
There's plenty of funny songs - very well sung - and a chase scene played out to "Yakety Sax", which many will recognise as The Benny Hill Show music. And Benny Hill (as so often) is the closest reference point for this panto - without his objectification of women, but with his blue broadness and raised eyebrow turned up to eleven.