Review: Potted Panto, Garrick Theatre

If the idea of pantomime causes you to break out in a cold sweat then it might be worth trying this potted version of some of the most classic pantomimes to ever grace the stage at this time of year.

Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the guys behind shows like Potted Potter, Potted Pirates and Potted Sherlock, try their hand at pantomime this year with fun sized versions of Jack and the Beanstalk, Dick Wittington, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Aladdin and A Christmas Carol. The pair poke fun at the most common tropes of British pantomime saying, “They can’t help it, they’re British.”

The plays deviates from the fairytales we all grew up with ever so slightly. Cinderella gets the 3D treatment.  Well, extra 3D treatment after a visit from her Fairy Godchicken. Jack steals golden eggs from the giant’s magic moose and Abanazar finds himself in the middle of Victorian London on his search for the magic lamp.

Like all pantomimes, there are always some treats for the adults and in this case it’s some much needed political satire. Dick, the Lord Mayor of London is played in a ridiculous blonde wig and has to decide whether to remain, as he had originally planned, or leave his ship. You can probably guess where this story goes.

Another great moment is during Sleeping Beauty where the fairy of the west leaves the party to “Make America Great Again” before burying her head in her hands and exclaiming, “What have we done?”

The actors complement each other really well: Jeff takes on the serious, bossy actor who insists on playing all the main characters. He keeps the show going and makes sure every trope is given a mention, it is panto after all.  Dan takes on the more ditzy role, playing all the other characters. Dan brings the slapstick, the dames and occasionally some innuendo that fortunately goes right over the younger audience members’ heads (although they laugh as if they understand).

Together they make a great team and it is clear that they are having a lot of fun up on that stage. The children seem to love every moment and really it is aimed at them and in their eyes it’s clearly a big success. As an adult, it’s the moments around the actual story telling that are the funniest and most entertaining.

As with all pantomime, expect much audience participation and a couple of treats for the younger audience members. It might not have the glitz and glam of Cinderella at the Palladium but it’s short, fun and a good laugh.

Potted Panto plays the Garrick Theatre until 15th Jan 2017. 

Photo: Geraint Lewis