As is evident by the weather, Christmas is around the corner, and so too are the multitude of traditions associated with it; mince pies, Christmas songs and of course the Great British tradition that is pantomime. The fun-for-all-the-family festive shows can be found across London, but I’d wager you’d have a hard time finding one as delightful, funny and crowd-pleasing as Dick Whittington at the Lyric Hammersmith.
The classic tale of Dick Whittington (Luke Latchman), Tom Cat (Keziah Joseph), and his quest to become Mayor of London and rid the city of rats has been given a new twist by writers Jude Christian, who also directed the production, and comedian and actor Cariad Lloyd. The audience is buzzing with a mixture of families and adults alike (after all pantomimes aren’t just for children) when Jodie Jacobs as Bow Belles enters and informs us that she is the true spirit of London and that she wants London to become a better place. Cue Dick and Tom Cat. Fresh from Cardiff, and with the accent to prove it, Dick arrives in London ready to seek his fame and fortune. The stage transforms and we see the bustling streets of London as the cast break into the first number of the night; a reworked The Greatest Show. In true pantomime style the performance is full of reworked pop songs from ‘Who Run The World? Rats!’ to ‘New Rules’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’.
Latchman as Dick was so endearing and charming that it was hard to not to like and root for the Welsh boy’s success. Additionally, the show was full to the brim with outrageous, joyously camp and delightful characters, but none more so than Sarah Fitzwarren (played by Carl Mullaney) who, aided only by her kitchen-inept daughter Alice (Hollie Edwin), struggles to maintain and run The Over Easy, her greasy spoon café.
Mullaney, with his superb comic timing, strong improvisational skills and ability to build a rapport with the audience, is everything you could wish for in a pantomime dame. Children and adults alike could be seen in stitches at his various quips – whether they were innuendos or not! Likewise, Sarah-Louise Young as Queen Rat was hilariously malicious as the villain of the story. However in the second half it was Margaret Cabourn-Smith as Mayor Pigeon/Captain P-Jones and First Minister Mergeon whose comedic talents shone bright and stole the show.
Overall, Dick Whittington is fabulous example of what pantomime can and should be; an engaging piece of theatre that entertains the whole family while being exceptionally creative and strongly performed.
Dick Whittington is playing the Lyric Hammersmith until January 6. For more information and tickets, click here.