Review: ODYSSEY: A HEROIC PANTOMIME, Jermyn Street Theatre

Charles Court Opera is back with another unique cult Christmas show

By: Dec. 10, 2023
Review: ODYSSEY: A HEROIC PANTOMIME, Jermyn Street Theatre
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Review: ODYSSEY: A HEROIC PANTOMIME, Jermyn Street Theatre When it comes to Christmas, the Charles Court Opera Company has an admirable tendency to say “Why not?” rather than “Why?” and, after last year’s more conventional (for them anyway) take on Jack and the Beanstalk, they go full CCO this year with a panto telling of The Odyssey. A little highbrow? Well, almost the first song we hear is “Go Go Power Rangers” so probably not, no.

John Savournin, an off-stage Zeus rather than on-stage Dame (a little disappointing for CCO regulars, but it was inevitable I suppose) and long-time musical director, David Eaton, have diced and sliced another story everyone half-knows, added some crazy songs and top drawer singing and delivered the laughs we all need at Christmas. Such is the standard of some of the puns that they’ll make your Christmas crackers jokes feel like they’ve been penned by Dorothy Parker.    

Review: ODYSSEY: A HEROIC PANTOMIME, Jermyn Street Theatre

The cast, five sopranos and mezzo-sopranos, off the leash to explore beyond formal operatic ranges, have a lot of fun - always so crucial in a panto to share that with the audience - and get through a dizzying array of costumes as they multi-role. Amy J Payne is a plaintively lovelorn Cyclops, Emily Cairns a perplexed Penelope and Meriel Cunningham a rather posh Trojan horse. Though each singer gets their chance to shine, I'll confess to my favourites being Tamoy Phipps’ turn as Cerebus, the Hound of Hades, with a raucous take on (wait for it) “Who Let The Dogs Out?” and Rosie Strobel’s stone-cold bullseye Cilla as, who else, Scylla, the recipient of a lorra, lorra, laffs. 

Fast paced, with the tiniest piece of benign audience participation and a bit of banter with percussionist, Dave Jennings, and stuffed with plenty of gags, good, bad and very bad, it’s the singing that provides a point of difference for the show. I’m not sure amplification was required (that said, I’m not doing nine shows per week am I) but the thrill of hearing these big operatic voices is there as always with this company of boutique production experts. 

If you’re looking for something a little different but with its feet firmly in the panto tradition, this might be the show for you. But, such is the reputation and track record of CCO, you might have to get lucky with returns. Ah returns… that might be something Odysseus knows all about.    

Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 31 December

Photo Credits: Alex Brenner


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