BWW Review: SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, Richmond Theatre
The annual pantomime at Richmond is always an entertaining affair. After last year's Peter Pan, we now turn to a glittering and very enjoyable version of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.
Comedian, writer and presenter Jo Brand is the star turn as the wicked Queen Lucretia. Brand takes a little while to settle into the rhythm of the show, but is a screeching baddie, with a throaty, cackling laugh. She maintains the sardonic and dry style that she is known for. Even when she appears to forget her lines, her request for a prompt gained laughs rather than groans. She is an evil, but also funny character and her scornful rendition of "I Put A Spell On You" is her highlight.
Appearing in his 19th consecutive pantomime, Britain's Got Talent finalist Jon Clegg makes a welcome return as Muddles, after his successful turn as Smee last year. Clegg is a true pantomime pro, taking everything in his stride with comfortable ease and natural charm. He makes the most of his opportunity to show off his range of accents, fitting in everyone from Boris Johnson to Donald Trump to Marge Simpson.
Clegg has an easy rapport with his on-stage mother Nurse Nancy, played with cheeky humour by Jason Sutton. Sutton is a perfect pantomime dame, chatting with the audience and exploiting the double-meaning in words wherever he can.
The pair team up with Prince Harry, played by a confident James Darch, for an excellent scene based on reciting an ever-extending tongue-twister. The margin for error is small and has the potential to be disastrously rude, but all three cope with aplomb, exploiting the humour whilst being highly entertaining.
In this world of acute awareness about political correctness, pantomime company Qdos Entertainment chooses to use tall actors on their knees, rather than any actors with dwarfism. Whatever your opinion on that decision, all seven actors put a huge amount of energy into their performance and a version of "You Raise Me Up" is a clever ode to Snow White.
The ensemble work varies; dancers lack some sharpness and energy in the palace party scene, but are utterly charming as they move around balletically as woodland creatures. Babette Langford's The Young Set provide suitable cuteness as the child ensemble.
Set and costume design is bright and sparkling, with excellent lighting and sound from Pete Watts and Tom Marshall. There is also clever use of animation through the Magic Mirror, who seems to be based on Harry Potter character, Voldemort.
There is enough toilet humour to keep the children happy, but there is also a fair amount of jokes aimed at the adults to satisfy a jaded parent. Prince Andrew and Pizza Express in Woking both make appearances, to the great amusement of the adults in the audience.
This is a very traditional pantomime in many ways, with clear goodies, baddies and the usual happy-ever-after. It is comfortable and familiar to boo when the wicked witch appears on stage and cheer the heroes. What is frustrating is the rather one-dimensional characters of the Prince and Princess; surely we are in a time when we can challenge the out-dated idea that all a woman needs is the love of a man to save her?
Despite this, children and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy this upbeat and witty show. In the world of panto, it is a success.
Photo Credit: Craig Sugden