What’s Cheryl Cole’s new name? Cheryl Verwotsit? Fillisomething? You can always judge a panto on its pop culture references. And there’s plenty shoehorned into Sleeping Booty! at the Leicester Square Theatre. From Kim Kardashian’s notable posterior to that other high-profile arse, Nigel Farage. On this, Sleeping Booty! excels. It’s a saving grace as well, as there is absolutely no plot or structure to speak off. As such, I can’t tell you what happens.
Perhaps this doesn’t matter. Perhaps the idea is that the whole thing is just one big laugh. Which, by and large (and with a couple of misgivings), it is. Grand dame of the London drag scene, Miss Dusty O is her usual venomous self, lashing a razor tongue at Kelly the bus driver in the front row, who had the audacity to arrive late. Complete with Liza With a Zee hairstyle and dressed like a Claire’s Accessories wet fart, Dusty O prowls about the space. This very definitely is her show.
Dusty O is the star perhaps, but there is able accompaniment elsewhere. Rachael Born is clearly a very funny person. In fact, I want her to be my friend. She shines as Tit-Bit, a goofy, loveable dinosaur thing. Leon Scott appears to channel the late Rik Mayall as the anarchic Prince Willie Wontie, and Paula Masterson is a joy to watch as Fairy Muff. Well done also to Alice Marshall and Alexander Beck.
Much of Sleeping Booty is very funny. There is the risk however that Stuart Saint’s bawdy writing can veer dangerously close to misogyny. Maybe it’s just me having a sense of humour bypass, but I find the word ‘slut’ when directed at women hugely inappropriate, and likewise the line ‘Oh what fun it is to ride a prostitute’ (to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’). I just think other options and lyrics could have been found, and, if truth be told, this tarnished my enjoyment somewhat.
That being said, Sleeping Booty continues the trend set by Saint’s two previous pantos at Leicester Square Theatre (Dick! and Dick! Comes Again…). It doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, but most of it is lots of fun (cue gags about Cockfosters and ‘never having the willies up me’ etc. etc.), and it fully knows its audience. On this basis, Sleeping Booty delivers the goods. And that’s enough I guess.
Sleeping Booty! is at the Leicester Square Theatre until 17 January. For more information and tickets, see the Leicester Square Theatre website. Photo by Marc Abe.